Legal rights for same-sex couples in Orlando, Florida, are getting stronger support.
On Thursday, the city signed its first Domestic Partnership Affidavit. HLN affiliate WKMG reports that the “next several days are booked solid with couples who have pre-registered” for the legal status.
So what exactly does this mean?
One of the guarantees in the domestic partnership registry would ensure visitation rights in hospitals and jail. It might not seem like a big deal, but Rob Domenico and Alan Meeks told WKMG it's a huge relief. Meeks has a brain tumor, and the couple lives in daily fear that the hospital would not honor their wishes as a family.
Besides visitation rights, the affidavit also grants registered domestic partners the right to make family decisions for each other, to be notified if a family member is in an emergency situation, and to participate in their children’s education.
City officials do make it clear though: This is not the same as same-sex marriage or civil unions. As a matter of fact, the affidavit isn’t limited to same-sex couples -- heterosexual couples who wish to make their domestic partnership official can also register for a $30 fee.
The legal doc is limited to the city of Orlando, though. City officials point out that it isn’t a state-wide or even a county-wide initiative. But WKMG reports that city officials are “considering other options as well.”
The state of Florida currently doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, but several counties across the state have recognized similar domestic partnerships.
The city of Orlando taking a step towards legal protection for same-sex couples isn’t surprising. After all, The Advocate magazine did recently name Orlando the second gayest city in the U.S.