Last Monday, December 5, I spoke at Orlando City Council when they had the first reading of the new ordinance to create a domestic partnership registry for the city. Here are my (approximate) remarks:
As a member of the clergy, I have the privilege of accompanying individuals, couples, and families through life’s major events, whether joyful or tragic. I bless their babies and witness their adoptions. I officiate at their weddings and counsel them in crisis. I conduct their memorial services and sit with them in grief. As a Unitarian Universalist minster, I serve families of all configurations. I am not concerned with whether a couple is same sex or opposite sex. I don’t care if a child has two moms, or a mom and a dad, or two dads. I am not concerned with questions of gender or sexual orientations. I am concerned with their love, their commitment, and their humanity. It is unreasonable that during these life events, some of our citizens have more rights and privileges than others. I applaud the Orlando City Council for taking this important step to mitigate the expense, stress, and distress of our lesbian and gay couples and their families during times of crisis.
Serving in Massachusetts when same-sex marriage was legally recognized there, I had the honor of signing the legal marriage licenses of 20 same sex couples. Some of those couples had been together for 25 or 30 years. We asked, after all that time, whether legal recognition made a difference. They always said yes. Public recognition of our deepest commitments is deeply affirming and truly matters to full equality. In addition, this public recognition is important for young people struggling with issues of sexuality and too often bullied or harassed. This step tells them that there is a place for them in our society and in our community. I believe that in creating the Domestic Partnership Registry, the Orlando City Council will save lives.
I look forward to the day when Florida grants full legal recognition to all its citizens. Until then, I thank you for taking the steps in your power to bring greater equality to Orlando.
The unanimous vote moves the ordinance to a second reading and a final vote next Monday, December 12. I’ll be there next week for the final reading. If you are in the area, I invite you to join me for this step forward. Come to City Hall before 2:00 pm to have time to get through security (Bring your id) and wear red – the color of pride in Orlando.