CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, 786-363-2737,

Today, the Hillsborough County Commission voted 4-3 against creating a domestic partner registry. The ACLU of Florida supported the creation of the registry, which would have allowed both same- and opposite-sex couples to access important legal protections. The following statement on the vote is from Joyce Hamilton Henry, Mid-Florida Regional Director of the ACLU of Florida.

“This is a disappointing setback for everyone in our county. The commission had an opportunity to let couples have important protections that are currently denied to them. Instead, they chose to maintain a status quo that unfairly prevents some members of our community from accessing basic rights that many of us take for granted. These include certain financial and insurance rights, emergency notification, hospital visitation and the ability to make certain medical decisions about someone you love.

“Despite the ill-informed characterization by some on the commission, a domestic partner registry is not a convenience. It’s a basic need for couples who, because of Florida’s discriminatory constitutional prohibition on same-sex couples being allowed to marry, have no legal protections in situations like medical emergencies. Hiring attorneys to secure these protections one at a time, besides being prohibitively expensive for most couples, is not an effective way of securing these rights. And as we’ve witnessed in tragic cases where individuals were kept from seeing or making important decisions for a loved one in an emergency, without the legitimacy of a domestic partnership registry, even these expensive legal documents are not sufficient.

“We’d like to applaud Commissioners Sharpe, Beckner and Miller for voting to support all couples in Hillsborough County. We are also very grateful to all of those who came to the meeting today and shared their stories about why this measure is so important for them. It is for all of these people – as well as the thousands of other couples in our community who would benefit from a domestic partner registry – that we will not give up the fight. The ACLU of Florida and our allies will continue to work to ensure that everyone in Hillsborough County and across the state is treated the same under the law, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or marital status.”

For more information, contact the ACLU of Florida Media Office: (786) 363 – 2737,

# # #