Sarasota News Leader

01/25/2013

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OPINION COUNTY COMMISSION FUMBLES TWO IMPORTANT DECISIONS EDITORIAL In recent meetings of the Sarasota County Commission, two important issues have been raised. The first was a request to create a countywide domestic partnership registry, following the example of the City of Sarasota, whose recently enacted registry began accepting applications in November. Given the limited population and boundaries of the city and the much larger population of the county, it was felt by supporters that a countywide registry would be more useful to residents. The idea of the registry, which has been adopted in other counties and municipalities in the state, has been frequently characterized as a gay rights issue, since same-sex couples are forbidden to marry in Florida. However, the advantage of the domestic partnership registry is to provide a simple mechanism for unmarried couples to deal with life events in a way that already is afforded to married couples, making it a far more universal need. Couples registered in a domestic partnership may be designated as emergency contacts, visit one another in the hospital or other medical facility, make medical decisions for each other when one is unable to do so, be involved in educational decisions for children of the relationship and even make funeral arrangements for a deceased partner. Given the dramatic increase in couples living together — and even raising families — without being married, the need for such provisions becomes more urgent. This is especially true for senior citizens, who might enter

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