In which Mike Haridopolos confuses himself into a lawsuit, Rick Scott confuses state universities for idiots and the gays are about to be less confused – legally speaking – in Orlando. A ball of confusion for everyone!
Published: December 1, 2011
And now for some good gay news! Well, sort of good. We’ve spent a couple of grumpy column inches discussing the ins and outs of the proposed domestic partner registry intended to blend the city and Orange County in the holiest of matrimonies allowable by gay law. Though we’ve somewhat flippantly highlighted how depressing gay law can be – hospital visitations, funeral arrangements, prison visits – the Orlando Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Committee, a group of concerned citizens that seeks to protect Central Floridians from discrimination, begs to differ, and they’re probably right.On Nov. 23, acknowledging the news earlier in the month that the county would not be jumping on board to make the process more cheap and fruitful this year, the OADO folks issued a press release announcing that the Orlando City Council was going to go ahead with hearings on the registry at its last two meetings of the year, Dec. 5 and Dec. 12. (Also, the group loves Mayor Buddy Dyer so hard, y’all).
We talked to attorney Mary Meeks, who has been working with both the city staff and the county to get the legal language just right, and she set us straight on a few things. First of all, the notion that it’s going to be more costly for the city to do it alone without a county component is still a little fuzzy. Though the city’s ordinance includes some language to make it more easily joined with the county’s (should it ever get around to it), if the county doesn’t jump on, Meeks says, “there’s going to be some cost in implementing that administrative procedure.” Also, if the county changes the language of its ordinance, it would then have to go back to the city for two new hearings (again, “some cost.”) Regardless, backers of the ordinance are seeing this as an unmitigated victory.
“I would always make the point that we still can’t get married. That’s not something that Orlando or Orange County can do. They’re doing everything they can,” Meeks says. “I think it’s a huge step forward, having our city take the lead and be the first [in Central Florida] to do that. They are important rights.We should have them, but we don’t.”
As it stands now, Meeks projects that residents – and not just Orlando residents, to be clear – could pay about $50 to codify their relationships in a meaningful way that can be enforced by the city. (The exact amount of the fee will be determined by the city clerk within the next three months.) Though Meeks expects some outside bible thumping – John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, will probably show up and suggest something like marrying your dog, naturally – the resistance will likely be futile. Especially if you’re there to boo them out of the room.
> Email Billy Manes and Jeff Gore