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Salt Lake County passes mutual commitment registry

Salt Lake County Councilmen Arlyn Bradshaw and Randy Horiuchi found a great way to celebrate Gay Pride Month — get
a mutual commitment registry started in the county.

The Council voted Tuesday, with just one nay vote, to establish a registry recognizing “adult relationships of financial dependence or interdependence.” Under the ordinance, the Salt Lake County Clerk will maintain a registry that would allow committed couples who are not legally married to receive documentation from the county attesting to their relationship status to help simplify the process of securing benefits and services from the county or from businesses that offer them voluntarily to employees whose family units fall outside Utah’s legal definition of marriage.

“I view it as supporting our family-centered culture that we have in our community and in our state,” co-sponsor Bradshaw said.

“The council just said, ‘We support all families that are committed to one another,'” Bradshaw said after the measure passed.

“To me this is a very, very important ordinance and change,” co-sponsor Horiuchi said. “It really does give nontraditional couples an opportunity to have their relationships codified.”

Council chair Steve DeBry called the ordinance a “slippery slope” to the legalization of gay marriage before voting against it.

“I do not support, nor do I advocate, for gay marriage,” he said. “Traditional marriage has supported societies and served us well for thousands of years.”

Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen is tasked with developing the registry, which goes into effect in 15 days.

To register, residents of Salt Lake County must be at least 18 years old, unmarried, share a primary residence and pay a $40 filing fee. The parties must be competent to enter contracts and “be directly dependent upon, or interdependent with, each other sharing a common financial obligation” such as a mortgage, a life insurance policy, a mutually granted power of attorney for health care or financial management, or proof that one partner is authorized to sign for purposes of a bank or credit account.

Partners who dissolve a mutual commitment must give notice to the county. The ordinance prohibits a party who ends a registered mutual commitment from entering another one for six months, unless the commitment ended because of a death.

Salt Lake City passed a similar registry in 2006, though only 86 couples have taken advantage of it.

Salt Lake City passed a similar registry in 2006, though only 86 couples have taken advantage of it.

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2 Comments

  1. I challenge Council chair Steve DeBry to attend my upcoming session at the Sunstone Symposium in August, entitled "Redefining Marriage: 2,500 Years of Social History." I will argue that there is no such thing as "traditional marriage" (other than a brief snapshot of it in white, middle-class America in 1955) and that otherwise the only constant about marriage is its being radically redefined about every 100 years by every culture in human history.

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