On Thursday, Jan. 10, the third day of his new term, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker announced that he plans to create a domestic partner registry for couples living in the state’s capitol – including gay and lesbian couples.
If his ordinance is successful, the registry would be the first of its kind in the state.
Similar to those used in 20 other states, Salt Lake City’s proposed registry would allow adults residents living with another adult to whom they are not married to voluntarily add their names to a catalogue. To do so, they will need to provide proof that they cohabit and that they rely upon each other as dependents.
While participation in the registry does not provide couples with any benefits, Becker noted that the catalogue will ensure hospital visitation rights. He also said that the certificate accompanying the registration would ensure that couples have fair access to all city facilities, such as parks and recreation facilities.
Becker said he wants to create the catalogue to help private businesses who want to offer benefits (such as health insurance) to domestic partners, and to give the city a way to recognize such relationships.
“This is an opportunity for us to provide all of Salt Lake City's residents the same level of equality, dignity and respect," Becker told The Salt Lake Tribune.
But several legislators, including Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, say that the registry is an attempt to get around Amendment 3, the constitutional amendment that banned gay marriage in 2004.
“I have great empathy for that kind of thing,” said Buttars. “I have no problem with people sharing insurance or their wills, estates, real estate or lives. I just have to be certain we're not coming in the back door of the Amendment 3.”
City Council Chairwoman Jill Remington Love, who was a mayoral hopeful last year, said that Becker and city attorneys constructed the registry ordinance within the law’s limits.
“There is certainly enough support that it's likely to pass the council," Love said. "I don't think Mayor Becker in any way is trying to back-door this.”
If the registry is approved, it will be administered by the City Recorder’s office. Participating residents will receive two notarized and certified documents proving their registration.
The domestic partnership registry is only one of Becker’s promised gay rights initiatives. He has also promised to broaden former Mayor Rocky Anderson’s nondiscrimination ordinance for city employees, extend retirement benefits to domestic partners and to require companies working with the city to offer domestic partner benefits.