Decatur Set To Create Domestic Partnership Registry

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 12.43.29 PMLast month, Decatur received a low score from the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index, which was based on a variety of different municipal offerings and actions.  A debate ensued about the accuracy of such a rank, and it was noted by the City Manager that some criteria that Decatur didn’t meet were due to it’s small size.  But one thing that was revealed when looking closely at the data was that Decatur didn’t have a Domestic Partnership Registry, while smaller cities, like neighboring Avondale Estates, did.

Now, just a month later, Decatur seems to be remedying this.  Tonight, the Decatur City Commission will vote on creating a Domestic Partnership Registry.  From a letter submitted to the Commission by Asst. Manager Lyn Menne…

Currently the State of Georgia does not recognize domestic partnerships. The creation of a local registry allows us to provide local recognition of domestic partnerships that exist between City of Decatur residents. The attached resolution establishing a local domestic partnership register has been reviewed and approved by the city attorney.

A local domestic partner registry allows our residents to register their partnership with the Decatur City Clerk and receive a certificate confirming that their partnership is recognized by the City of Decatur. A sample of the registry page and the certificate is attached for your review.

I recommend that the Decatur City Commission approve the attached resolution establishing a local domestic partnership registry for City of Decatur residents and authorizing the city clerk to maintain a domestic partnership registry and issue certificates in recognition of this registration.

You can read the full ordinance HERE.

45 thoughts on “Decatur Set To Create Domestic Partnership Registry”

  1. All for legalizing marriage for anyone in love but in practical terms what would this do/allow/ be a benefit?

    1. Recognition of your relationship as legitimate?

      If you’ve never had that, you literally do not know what you’re missing.

  2. My initial reaction to this runs the gamut. On one hand, I understand that the intention is good, and intention is what generally means the most to me. On the other hand, this need to label seems strange to me as if the label automatcically reflects respect. Should a place and a community not be as respectful of those who choose to be together, whether in a marriage or domestic partnership, as it is of those who choose to lead a single life? Should we also have a Single Person Registry?

    At the same time, this whole thing seems a bit reactionary. We score low on some index based on one group’s idea of what constitutes Equality, and now we have to do something about it while at the same time we bemoan standardized testing of our children?? Perhaps we should all begin wearing the scarlet letters of whatever group we mostly closely associate with. Guess I’m just not a fan of labels. Reminds me of my favorite story of all time regarding tolerance/intolerance: The Sneetches. The Domestic Partnership Registry feels like a star upon thars. I know the intent is good, it’s the execution and reasoning I struggle to understand.

      1. I must disagree. Keith F is not overthinking it; he is eloquently describing the multiple facets of equality and group identity.

        A member of WHAAMP (White Heterosexual Anglo American Male Protestant)

        1. We need to talk about your acronym…


          A member of WHAAMP (Waffle House Admirers Among Mealtime Prudes)

          1. You owe me a new keyboard, due to the Coke that landed on it when I laughed out loud. 🙂

    1. We do have a single-person registry, called your taxpayer ID.

      The “eloquent” title applied by SMB..SLT is arguable. This just sounds more like a nicer version of the “what’s next? marrying animals???” argument to me.

      1. “This just sounds more like a nicer version of the “what’s next? marrying animals???” argument to me.”

        That is ridiculous.

        1. Yeah, it’s ridiculous that people can’t see that any effort to include others is relevant.
          I’m very glad that I live in a city that continues make those efforts –in a state that goes the other way! (anyone who thinks that the animals comment isn’t being made in some zip codes is also ridiculous)

  3. Doesn’t the City of Decatur offer domestic partner benefits to its employees? Shouldn’t that count for far more in any comparisons than any other single factor?

    1. Does anyone know the answer to this question? Does city provide benefits to same sex domestic partners. If no does this allow them to better be able to do that?

  4. It feels that this is nothing more than symbolic, and if so, is nothing more than a waste of time and resources. Why anyone feels they need the government to sanction their marriage/relationship/partnership is beyond me anyway (unless benefits are given of course). In my dream world, the gay community would lobby (and I would join in) to have the government extract itself from marriage involvement altogether. People didn’t advocate for everyone to become slaves in search of equality, they advocated for no one to be a slave.*

    *No, I am not comparing government involvement in marriage to slavery. It’s an analogy.

    1. I don’t believe anyone would give a hoot if the governement recognized their relationship if said recognition didn’t come with thousands of benefits. Indeed, getting the government out of marriage would be great but that’s never going to happen if solely because of the sheer number of separate governmental organizations involved. You’re probably right that a local registry does nothing per se, but at least it shows that the local government in the place so many gay couples have chosen to call home is a welcoming place for them and their families. Also, the more local municipalities that get on board, the greater the chance that something might happen at the state level.

    2. Don’t underestimate the power of government recognition:

      “Since the United States Government declares this man to be Santa Claus, this court will not dispute it. Case dismissed.”

    3. Why anyone feels they need the government to sanction their marriage/relationship/partnership is beyond me anyway (unless benefits are given of course).

      1. It’s how society currently operates. 2. It is my understanding that benefits are extended to married couples.

  5. I like the idea of this because I believe that one way to decrease stigma about something is to shine a light on it, talk about it, make it commonplace in the media, government, the workplace, school, comedy clubs, church, anywhere. It’s not necessary to convince anyone of anything to reduce stigma, just make the topic so ho-hum that it doesn’t provoke surprise or sharp reactions. Then eventually the younger generations coming up say “I can’t believe anyone worried about that…..

  6. Is this a surprise? More to come and not just in this area, but trees, housing, drainage, vehicles, public monuments, and of course taxes. But don’t worry. You can keep your doctor…

    1. Chris, what does this even mean? Do you believe that the City of Decatur is wrong to give a formal–if symbolic–acknowledgement that it values the relations of its gay and lesbian employees? If so, why is it wrong? If not, then why are you complaining? Either way, what the heck does this measure have to do with the City’s stance on zoning, trees, millage rate, Obamacare (?!?) etc.? Does it all just somehow meld together as some sort of liberal blob?

      To address this issue in general (and not just Chris B’s comment)–gays and lesbians (and transgender people too) have long been stigmatized and marginalized in the U.S. So it’s their reaction to this announcement I’d want to hear. If it’s “Meh, this is fine, but it’s kinda gimmicky and really it doesn’t do much concrete,” then OK. But if it’s “Hey, I know it’s symbolic, but I really appreciate that Decatur is making a statement about how it values our relationships,” then that means something. Symbolic actions can be important too, even if what we really want are concrete gains like access to healthcare benefits, visitation rights to loved ones in the hospital, and those sorts of things.

      1. Meh. Just ignore him. His posts, almost all of them it seems at this point, are either really bad attempts at sarcastic humor, really bad attempts at making intelligent points, or really good attempts at mean-spirited trolling. For the life of me, I really can’t tell which one it is.

        1. “Just ignore him….his posts”

          One word pretty much sums them up: nonsensical. Ignoring them is entirely appropriate.

          1. Yeah, don’t try to refute them. He never comes back to see what others have said. He just rolls a bomb out into the street.

  7. Companies sometimes require couples to be registered as domestic partners before their spouse can receive insurance benefits. Seems like this small item the City is pursuing, and I assume at little to know cost to citizens, could be really important to some neighbors. I hope that is enough reason to garner more support here.

    1. I saw your first sentence in action. Several years ago, one of my coworkers here in Atlanta had to register a domestic partnership in the state of Washington in order to get her partner on the benefits plan. I wonder if this move by Decatur would have prevented the need to go through that ordeal.

      1. I have also witnessed this in action. I think this kind of registry would be attractive to same sex couples in Atlanta, who may want to move to Decatur for this option.

        And to those asking “why bother,” I would ask why not? I personally think it will take communities like ours to start doing things like this to help turn the tide in Georgia. It may seem silly or wasteful to some, but as a gay Decatur resident, I applaud the city for trying to do something. I don’t necessarily need my community to score high on the Equality Index or give me a tangible benefit fromt he registry, but I do wish there were more of my neighbors supporting this simple act here on this blog. If I recall, it seems many commenters were boycotting Chik-Fil-A when they had the PR issue. Why not give the residents & commissioners who read this blog a resounding “HELL YEAH!” on this item too?

        1. +1

          I’ll give another “HELLS YEAH !”

          I like to think “Why not ?” is often a better question than “Why ?”

          Straight husband and father here, proud to be living in Decatur, who likes to think his city welcomes all.

        2. But, but, but, what about traditional family values? And the freedom OF religion which trumps the freedom FROM religion? Are we supposed to just tell these folks that they need to suck it up, love their neighbors and join the 21st century?

          HELL YEAH!!!

    2. That’s a great point. If it can serve that kind of purpose, then it’s very helpful. Wonder if this will have the weight of an affidavit, is notarized, or handled somehow to give it some kind of legal weight.

  8. I think this is a great idea, and I hope and expect it will draw national media attention. I’d be proud of Decatur for doing this. Maybe this small gesture tells one depressed kid that there’s a place you will be treated like everyone else, even while the rest of the state conspires to keep you on the margins.

    1. A friend of mine’s young gay cousin just killed himself because he apparently couldn’t handle the shame his religious, conservative family was heaping on him after he came out. Any step to remove stigma is a step in the right direction.

  9. Ten to twenty years ago, domestic partnership registries were important steps to acknowledging gay relationships and part of building public acceptance of marriage.

    However, the state of Georgia has just re stated its policy that any gay couple married in another state will have to figure two different versions of their tax returns. The federal government will allow them to file jointly but Georgia insists they figure their state returns separately. In other words, move to the back of the bus, or, I guess, that’s off the bus altogether.

    In this atmosphere, Decatur’s gesture of acceptance will be welcome.

  10. So sorry as not to respond within the appropriate time frame.
    “WHEREAS, a “domestic partnership” for the purposes of this resolution is defined as “TWO people of the opposite gender or the same gender who live together in the mutual interdependence of a single home.”
    Can anyone explain to me why the city commission is discriminating/ignoring our many three or more couples who live together in the mutual interdependence of a single home? You won’t because you have no standards, no absolutes to defend.
    Here’s the thing, a conservative such as myself, as well many Decatur churches and other religious institutions, believe that there are standards for several fundamental social institutions that should not be changed without careful consideration. In my opinion, the city commission should be ashamed of itself. It prides itself on careful, long term study of issues but in this case, and I predict for other issues controlled by special interest groups, it will change course on the whim of something as simplistic as a survey.
    Instead of attacking me, why don’t you attack the commissioners for not having the guts to empower city judges to perform gay marriages. Why wait for a federal judge to force Georgia to change its laws when our city judges can do it right now? Show up at the next commission meeting and ask, no,demand, that Decatur should lead the way. You won’t because it’s easier to attack me. Gutless. And while I’m at it, print your real name cowards!

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