Punta Gorda votes to move forward with domestic partnership registry

CREATED Jan. 8, 2014

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PUNTA GORDA, Fla. -- Punta Gorda City Council members voted unanimously today to move forward with discussing an ordinance to recognize domestic partnerships in the city. By registering in a domestic partnership database, unmarried couples who live together could be given rights to make healthcare and funeral decisions for their partner. 

The meeting attracted more than 150 supporters of the proposal, many from the group Equality Punta Gorda. Co-founder Vonnie Holder said she has been waiting years for her same-sex relationship to be recognized. 

"There's nothing more rewarding than to be validated by your community," Holder said. 

The organization asked City Council to adopt the following six rights for domestic partners: 

  1. Notification of partners in an emergency
  2. Hospital visitation
  3. Ability to make healthcare decisions 
  4. Designate each other as pre-need guardians
  5. Make funeral and burial arrangements for deceased partner
  6. Allows partners to participate in decisions affecting the education of minor children in the household, unless the other biological parent objects

If the ordinance passed, individuals in a domestic partnership would receive ID-like cards indicating they are in a domestic partnership with the other person. 

"This is government for the people and so they want this and I think it's great for the city to move forward with it," said Mayor Rachel Keesling. 

No one at the meeting spoke out against the ordinance, but local religious organizations voiced concerns to Fox 4.  

"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," said Diocese of Venice Communications Director Billy Atwell.  

Specifics of the ordinance will be discussed at future City Council meetings.