TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) — A Senate committee on Monday narrowly approved a bill to set up a statewide domestic partner registry to grant unmarried couples certain protections and benefits typically granted only to married people.

While committee passage for the idea was seen by backers as a major step, its passage remains a long shot.

The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee voted 5-4 to advance the measure (SB 196), the first time a Florida legislative committee has approved the domestic partnership registry idea.

Being registered as in a domestic partnership would give the partners – straight or gay – certain legal rights, granted to married people, including hospital visitation privileges that are the same as those granted to married spouses.

The bill also would require prisons to allow domestic partners the same visitation rights as spouses, and allow domestic partners to jointly own property, among other rights.

Eighteen local communities have already created such registries in Florida, including some large counties like Orange, Broward and Miami-Dade.

“The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.”


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