Is new Punta Gorda ordinance valid?
PUNTA GORDA, Fla. -
Yesterday the Punta Gorda City Council passed an ordinance making it legal for same sex couples to register as "domestic partners". For those couples it was perceived as a major hurdle that was crossed. But, what does this really do for them? What it says is, this council has passed a law that says you can have the power to make end of life decisions for your partner. So, in other words, one trip to city hall and it's all decided whether someone lives or dies?
(Culbreth): Can you see any hospital doing this? "No. I can't see any hospital doing it. I can't even imagine if they even consulted a hospital," said Dan Endrizal who is an attorney in Fort Myers who specializes estate planning and guardianships. He's talking about the ordinance the Punta Gorda City Council passed yesterday that gives unmarried domestic partners, same sex or not, the power to make end of life decisions for their partner.
The ordinance says that instead of needing written directions such as a "Power of Attorney", "Living Will", and designated "Health Care Surrogate", that all you have to do is go to city hall, pay $30 bucks, and that, as the ordinance reads, "Registration as a Domestic Partner shall be considered to be written direction by each partner designating the other to make health care decisions for their incapacitated partner as provided in Chapter 765, Florida Statues.
"They say that by registering it's the same as having a written declaration. The State of Florida ain't gonna buy that I don't think," said Endrizal. He's the attorney that fought the recent case of the 88 year old woman who was near the end of her life. She wanted her son to decide whether to take her off life support. So, in that case they had a blood relative, a Power of Attorney, and a Living Will, yet Lee Memorial Health Systems still took the matter to court.
"It doesn't matter who you are, proper estate planning can cover all that," added Endrizal. "Same sex couples or domestic partners can do all these documents themselves and they're good anywhere in the United States".
Endrizal also says the same sex issue doesn't matter either. That's because if it's drawn up properly anyone can make these decisions for anyone else. (Culbreth): Are you concerned that people are going to think that they're covered and they're not? "Oh, of course," added Endrizal. "A lot of people will think they're covered and they're not".
When I asked a high level administrator at another hospital about this concept, he said "there's no hospital anywhere that's gonna go for that". When I emailed the Punta Gorda mayor, council members, city manager and city attorney questions like; Did they consult with anyone at the hospital and medical facilities before drafting the ordinance? Not one of them responded.