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2013 In Review: Pensacola Approves Domestic Partnership

City of Pensacola

On an 8-1 vote in mid-December, the Pensacola City Council approved a domestic partnership registry – or DPR – which will ensure a number of rights to hundreds of unmarried couples.

Sponsored by Councilman Larry B. Johnson, the DPR will be open to cohabiting, unmarried adults — both gay and straight — to register as domestic partners. Those who live outside the Pensacola city limits are also eligible. Applications are expected to be accepted beginning in March, for a fee which – along with other nuts and bolts – will be determined between now and then.

Once the certificates are issued, couples will be authorized to make decisions related to medical and death issues for each other; it also provides for decisions on visitation rights and the raising of children involved in their relationship. And one can be notified in case of an emergency involving their partner.

City Council chambers were filled with supporters on the night of the vote and many came forward to speak. There were no speakers voicing opposition to the proposal. Council President Jewel Cannada-Wynn did cast the lone dissenting vote. She said she felt that a domestic partnership registry undermines the institution of marriage.

On the strength of the City Council’s vote, Pensacola became the first Florida city west of Tallahassee to offer such a domestic partnership registry. DPRs already have gained widespread support elsewhere in Florida. They’re available in at least 14 other cities and counties, which house roughly half the state’s 19 million population.

Supporters hoped that will prompt other governments across the region to follow suit – beginning with the Escambia County Commission.