Orange County's Domestic Partnership Registry Opens
July 6, 2012 | WMFE - A round of applause broke out at the Orange County Administration Center this morning as the first couple signed into the county's new Domestic Partnership Registry.
[Image: Sharon Durrant, left, and Ellen Hone, second from left, become the first couple to sign up for the Orange County Domestic Partnership Registry, with the help of attorney Mary Meeks, right, and witnesses]
Ellen Hone says she and her partner of 33 years, Sharon Durrant, were first in line because they were eager for rights that married couples often take for granted, like the assurance of hospital visitation.
“We’ve been fortunate when we have been ill and one of us has been in the hospital that we haven’t had difficulty. But we have friends who have encountered that, and you never know when you might,” Hone says. “And that’s the worst time. You don’t need that hassle when you’re having somebody in the hospital like that.”
Other rights registered couples receive include medical decision-making, emergency notification and education decisions for a child. The registry was created by an ordinance known as Health, Education and Life Protection – or “HELP” for short.
Dozens of couples waited in line for this morning’s special in-person registration. Orange County Comptroller Martha Haynie, who gave an address before the registry opened, says couples can find instructions on how to register at Orange County’s website.
Individuals can also use the registry. They can enter the name of a surrogate and assign that person rights such as end-of-life decisions.
Orange County joins Orlando and a growing number of Florida municipalities that have domestic partnership registries.