I've just left Volusia County Hall where moments ago, by a vote of 6-1, the Volusia County Council approved Central Florida's first countywide domestic partnership registry!
The registry, which takes effect July 1, 2012, will extend vital legal protections to our families. Then, any unmarried couple who lives, works or visits Volusia County can gain the right to make medical decisions for an incapacitated partner, be notified in a life threatening emergency, visit a partner in a health-care facility and participate in the education of a partner's children.
This is such an important step in our fight for equality and we're proud to have worked with some of the most dynamic leaders in Volusia County. For almost two years, Equality Florida has been working with local leaders tolay out the social and business arguments for this important policy. From the onset we found a friend and ally in Councilmember Josh Wagner, who introduced the ordinance. Special thanks to Larry Glinzman and the ACLU for their important work in this fight.
In the moments before he cast his vote, Councilmember Wagner proudly stated, "Let this message ring true... Everyone is welcome and treated fairly in Volusia County."
Today we celebrate the leadership of the County Council for making Volusia a welcoming county for all families.
Volusia's victory is one spark in an exciting wildfire of local policies moving across the state!
Just two days ago, the City of Gulfport became the first city in Pinellas to pass a Domestic Partnership Registry. Tomorrow, local teams around the state will continue the fight to bring these critical protections to more than a dozen other cities and counties!
More and more municipalities each day are hearing our message loud and clear - equality is good for business, good for community, and good for families.
Next week alone, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, and Orange County will all be voting on their own Domestic Partnership Registeries - and Jacksonville will toward securing protections for the LGBT community in employment, housing and public accommodations.
We are winning equality all across Florida, everyday.