Sarasota News Leader

10/12/12

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POSSIBLE POLICY EXPANSION The Sarasota County Commission sits in session during a recent meeting in Sarasota. Photos by Nor- man Schimmel SARASOTA COUNTY MAY FOLLOW CITY OF SARASOTA'S LEAD ON DOMESTIC PARTNER REGISTRY By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor Could Sarasota County adopt a domestic partner registry identical to the one recently approved by the city? Perhaps, according to County Commissioner Carolyn Mason, who says she plans to formally introduce the idea after the November elections. The City Commission voted unanimously last Monday, Oct. 1, to approve the registry, which would grant unmarried couples, including gays and lesbians, rights such as hospital vis- itation. Former City Commissioner Ken Shelin has been instrumental in moving that policy forward, and he is working behind the scenes now to convince the county to follow in the city's footsteps. Shelin tells The Sarasota News Leader he reached out to Mason first. "I had gone to her some time ago about the possibility of doing this and she was sympathetic," he says. Mason had indicated in an Oct. 4 email to a constituent that she would bring up the issue this week, but she decided to hold off till the commission's makeup is clear — i.e., after the elections. "I am a believer in fairness for everybody," Mason tells the News Leader, but she won't commit 100% to voting for the registry. "As a commissioner, I'm a bridge, and so putting it

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