More breaking news from Central Florida. Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs has told the Orlando Sentinel that she supports creating an Orange County law to protect unmarried gay and straight couples. In the past few weeks the LGBT community had grown concerned that Mayor Jacobs might have been backing away from the registry ordinance. Thank you to everyone who wrote letters, made phone calls and have shared stories with the media this week! Stay tuned for more details.
From the Orlando Sentinel blog:
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said Friday that any county-based domestic partner registry would likely need to include an ordinance.
It’s potentially a key breakthrough in what has become a combative policy fight, and signals Orange County could be moving toward adoption of a registry similar to one Orlando leaders created.
“I want to make sure that if I adopt something, it does something meaningful and worthwhile,” Jacobs said. “At this point, based on the level of research that we’ve conducted, the ordinance would be helpful.”
Chiefly, it could aid in enforcing hospital visitation rights, Jacobs said.
Jacobs had raised doubts about the possibility of passing an ordinance previously, and it became a key sticking point for gay rights activists who have been pushing for a registry.
Orlando leaders recently passed an ordinance that created a registry for gay and straight couples to aid them with hospital, funeral and school visitation issues that arise with unmarried couples. Some activists feared that while Jacobs endorsed the registry concept, she might create one without an ordinance, and diminish its legal weight.
Jacobs said she’s still doing research on the registry concept and plans to meet with funeral directors and gay activists later this month. A board discussion of the registry issue could come up as early as next month, officials said.
Jacobs’ comments were welcomed by gay rights activists, who had hours earlier tried to reach out and calm what had exploded into a contentious registry fight this week.
“It’s a very positive development,” said Mary Meeks, an attorney and member of the Orlando Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Committee.
“OADO is extremely happy that Mayor Jacobs has concluded that an ordinance is essential to implement the Domestic Partnership Registry and provide the inherent legal protections needed for us to protect our families,” the group said in a statement. “We regret the media firestorm of the last few days and applaud Mayor Jacobs for focusing on the substance of this important issue and reaching the right conclusion, as she has done in the past on issues that affect our community.”
Here’s the OADO letter activists sent to Jacobs earlier in the day.
***Photo courtesy of: orangecountyfl.net