Hillsborough County Commissioners voted 4-3 today to support Commissioner Al Higginbotham's motion to have county staff create an information packet about current Florida programs for designating a health-care surrogate.
The motion was the Commissioner's attempt to address the request for a domestic partner registry that came before the commission back in January; the registry, an idea that has won acceptance in many communities in Florida and Tampa Bay, was rejected by the same four commissioners who supported his motion today: fellow Republicans Victor Crist, Sandy Murman and Ken Hagan.
But according to an attorney selected by Commissioner Kevin Beckner to address the board, Higginbotham's plan falls well short of the six rights that would be granted to a domestic partner by such a registry.
"The hugest problem obviously is that couples who execute that packet of documents still will not have the legal right to visit each other in a hospital, or correctional facility," said Orlando-based attorney Mary Meeks. "They still would not have the right to arrange each other's funeral. They still would not have the right to be notified in the event of an emergency. They still would not have the right to participate in the educational activities of their partner's children. This particular packet of documents does not address any of those other five rights. No legal document can afford those rights."