Beginning on Monday, April 15, unmarried couples in Pinellas County can register as domestic partners. The countywide registry granting a handful of rights to couples—gay and straight—who are not married opens exactly three months after the county voted 6-1 to approve it on Jan. 15.
Couples can register beginning at 8 a.m. April 15 at several Clerk of the Courts locations—the Clearwater Courthouse, both the North County and St. Petersburg branch offices, and the Tyrone Branch office.
For details on the office locations, visit PinellasClerk.org.
Both parties must be present at the time of registration and a fee of $50 is due at the time of registration. Those who have previously registered in one of the cities within Pinellas County may pay a reduced fee. It is recommended that previously-registered applicants bring their certificate from the appropriate city.
The ordinance allows unmarried couples access to a handful of rights, such as hospital visitation, funeral planning and access to each other in jail. Last year, Gulfport, St. Petersburg and Clearwater all enacted their own domestic partnership registries and Largo has been in talks to create its own.
The new countywide registry will prevent the need for every city within the county to adopt its own ordinance.
Newly elected commissioner Charlie Justice was happy to support the registry, but added that protecting the citizens of Florida should be a priority of the state government.
"Would I prefer that the Florida legislature take the lead and do this?" Justice asked in the chambers before the January vote. "Yeah. But this vote will build a certain amount of momentum to where the legislature will say, 'you know what, maybe it is time."
The only commissioner to not support the registry was Norm Roche.
The new ordinance will not protect couples who are in counties that do not recognize domestic partnerships, but it will cover all of Pinellas County. A statewide registry, which advanced out of committee in Tallahassee, is needed in order to protect partners across the Sunshine State.
From our media partners Watermark.