Cape Coral is the next stop on the campaign trail for former Sarasota city commissioner Ken Shelin. He is going before City Council on Monday to ask the members to pass an ordinance to create a domestic partner registry in the city.
"Half of the population in Florida lives in a community that recognizes the registry," said Shelin, 73. "My interest rests in Southwest Florida. Soon I will get on the agenda with the Lee County Commission and Fort Myers."
So far, Shelin has gotten registry legislation passed in Sarasota city and county, Venice, North Port and most recently Punta Gorda. He has Bonita Springs and Naples in his sights.
"Everywhere there has been a vote, it was unanimously in favor," said Shelin. "There has been almost no public opposition, except one community three church members opposed the registry. The good thing about the registry is that it is not a religious issue. It's a civil issue."
The domestic partner registry started in California many years ago, Shelin said. Over the past 20 to 25 years it has spread across the country. It has shown not to be a violation of the state same-sex marriage bans because the rights it grants is very different from the rights granted by a marriage.
"The most important thing is the registry is gender neutral," said Shelin. "There are many reasons why people don't want to get married but choose to still be in a committed relationship."
The registry Shelin will propose to the Cape Coral council deals with health care hospital visitation rights, medical decision making, end of life and funeral planning, minor child education and correctional facility visitation rights.
"I've given them a model ordinance that they can follow," said Shelin. "I will encourage them to follow the model. Another good thing about the legislation is that once you and your partner - same sex or opposite sex - register in one community it is honored in other communities that have registries. It is useful for visitors as well as residents in that if you live in a community without a registry you can register in another community near you and it becomes recognized."
He added that the fee to register usually ranges from $30 to $50 in most communities.