PUNTA GORDA, Fl. - Applause and cheers as city leaders unanimously approved to draft an ordinance for a domestic partnership regustry in Punta Gorda.
One voice in the standing room only crowd was Nancy Semon.
"It's the 21st century and its an idea who's time is come," Semon says.
But Nancy says she and her partner were close to moving out of Punta Gorda after her health took a bad turn.
"I've been in a relationship with this man for five years who's got extremely wonderful health insurance benefits... His union told us that if we moved out of Punta Gorda and moved to a place that recognized domestic partners, I could be covered by his insurance," she adds.
But now, they plan on staying put since their home is taking steps to recognize their relationship.
For example, the registry allows domestic partners, same sex or heterosexual, the right to visit their loved one in the hospital. It also gives each partner the authority to make funeral and burial arrangements. Supporters say most importantly is recognizes their relationship.
Pastor Bruce Antle with Friendship United Methodis Church says this has come up with church members before. But he questions the message it sends.
"The question becomes 'you know we've got our own estates we've got our own families our wills are set up, and we just want your advice on what to do'... If you're asking whether you should get married or not my response is yes definitely, make that commitment," he says.
WINK News got the following statement to from the Diocese of Venice, Florida. They have a church in Punta Gorda:
"The Punta Gorda City Council voted unanimously to create an ordinance to recognize domestic partnerships. A gay rights activist was asked to present on the issue. Despite the Catholic Church’s long-standing support for families and traditional marriage, no Catholic leader was asked to present an alternate view, thus creating an imbalance in the debate.
Domestic partnership registries are little more than an attempt to create a parallel institution to marriage. For some time it has been known that Florida voters supported an amendment to the Florida Constitution that marriage should be defined as the union of one man and one woman.
This decision by the City Council will not strengthen or stabilize families. Human dignity and authentic human rights are God-given, regardless of one’s sexual orientation; there is no human right, however, to have a domestic partnership registry.
Decisions as important as this necessitate a balanced discussion, which it would appear the City Council failed to provide in this case."
Director of Communications
Diocese of Venice in Florida