Orange County mayor backs off domestic partnership registry

Gay advocates call for county-wide registry

ORLANDO, Fla. - Gay couples say they are angry that Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs is no longer supporting the creation of a domestic partnership registry similar to one passed in Orlando.

Nearly 100 people met to discuss a recent announcement by Jacobs to ditch the domestic partnership registry that would give couples rights, such as hospital visitation and end of life decisions. Orlando passed a similar registry, but Jacobs is not convinced that model is right for the county. Instead, Jacobs said she doesn't think there needs to be a law and has opted for a form which can be filled out by any two people, regardless of relationship status.

Gay advocates said the form has no legal teeth.

They said they are fighting for basic rights like being allowed to visit their partners in hospitals and plan funerals and make end-of-life decisions.

"She[Jacobs] is previously on record supporting domestic partnerships, promising to bring it up for a vote and it hasn't happened," said Mary Meeks, a civil rights attorney. "She can say that she has expanded the realm of people that she's willing to give a useless document to if she wants to but she's absolutely not proposing to expand any actual legal rights. We all know people who have had those documents and they've been ignored. So please don't give me another useless piece of paper."

Jacobs will meet with gay and lesbian advocates later this month before the proposal goes to the County Commission.

A spokesman for Jacobs said she has not changed her mind and is still getting answers to her questions by meeting with hospitals, funeral homes, and schools.

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