CAPE CORAL, Fla.-A discussion over a domestic partnership registry is taking place in Cape Coral. If it passes, the Cape would become the first city in Lee County to have one.
The registry would give committed, but unmarried couples, some of the same benefits as married couples.
The petitioner is Ken Shelin, a former Sarasota city commissioner, now, with Equality Florida. He is pushing Cape Coral to implement an ordinance that would allow a domestic partnership registry.
"That's an ordinance that provides about 7 rights to committed domestic partners so they can live life the way it should be," Shelin said.
The petition uses Sarasota's domestic partnership registry as an example.
It's asking the city to give domestic partners some of the benefits afforded to legally married couples, such as hospital visitation rights, and the ability to make medical and funeral decisions.
The registry would only be recognized in city limits, and would not be recognized by the state.
This comes after Punta Gorda implemented its domestic partnership registry in April.
Michelle Woods and Susan Aguirre have been a couple for about four years. They are thrilled their city, Punta Gorda, allows a domestic partnership registry. "This means the local government is supporting us as a group, whether it be same sex, opposite sex," said Woods.
21 couples have signed up so far. That includes some same sex couples, as well as some heterosexual couples.
Supporters in Cape Coral wore red to the meeting Monday night.
There were also those in opposition.
"Why should a government become involved in a truly private manner where, in most instances, people make consensual choices to forgo the benefits of marriage?" asked one Cape Coral resident. "The items contained in this petition are either misleading, false or half truths."
The city council will talk tonight about possibly drafting an ordinance.
If that happens, we'd first see public hearing on the matter.
Then a final vote. All of this could happen within the year.