Tuesday, July 28, 2009

St. Paul City Council Passes Domestic Partner Registry Ordinance

Last Wednesday, July 22, Mayor Chris Coleman signed a domestic partnership ordinance for the city of St. Paul (the third city in Minnesota to have such a registry; Minneapolis and Duluth are the others).

The ordinance, introduced by Council members Lee Helgen and Dave Thune, had been approved 6-0 about 90 minutes before, with a number of Council members saying the ordinance was a step forward for the city.

"Equality is equality is equality," Mayor Coleman said, "and you can't have equality for some and not for others."

Because Minnesota municipalities are forbidden by state law from offering any type of domestic partner benefits, the registry is largely symbolic. But proponents say the new law could benefit couples and businesses for which proof of domestic partnership is needed. Couples would pay the city $20 and receive a certificate to be used as proof of the relationship to employers for benefits purposes or to hospitals for visitation purposes.

Although the ordinance creates no legal benefits, the Council should still be applauded for taking this step. Says Amy Johnson, executive director of OutFront Minnesota, "It matters that the city is saying, 'We recognize that you're a couple, and we want afford you as much dignity and respect as we can recognize your relationship. It means a lot for the government to even symbolically recognize us."

Thank you to the St. Paul city council members and Mayor Coleman for taking a stand for equality!

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