Berkeley to look at closing Domestic Partnership Registry

Sandy Stier and Kris Perry, lead Prop. 8 plaintiffs, celebrate in San Francisco’s Pride Parade on Sunday June 30. The ruling in favor of marriage equality makes Berkeley’s Domestic Partnership Registry redundant, argues Berkeley Councilman Daryl Moore. Photo: William Newton

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of marriage equality in California, Berkeley Councilman Darryl Moore believes the city’s Domestic Partnership Registry should be closed down.

The Domestic Partnership Registry affords everyone, be they in same-sex or heterosexual relationships, a place to have their relationships recognized by a government entity. A resolution proposing it be abolished drafted by Moore will be considered by the Berkeley City Council tomorrow.

If approved, the resolution would go into effect on Oct. 11, the 22nd anniversary of the registry’s creation as well as National Coming Out Day. The resolution also proposes making Oct. 11 Marriage Equality Day.

“With the recent ruling by the Supreme Court on Prop 8 and DOMA, we now have marriage equality here in California,” Moore said. “The symbolic nature of the registry is no longer needed.”

In 1984, the Berkeley City Council and the Berkeley Unified School District became the first government entities in the U.S. to grant domestic partnership benefits to their employees. The City Council created the Domestic Partnership Registry on Oct 11, 1991 to give all couples official recognition by a government body.

Moore said that individuals who wish to register as domestic partners may do so with the California Domestic Partnership Registry, which grants legal marriage rights to all registered couples.

However Steve Freedkin, a Berkeley resident who has been in a domestic partnership for years, said that registering with the state can be problematic if a couple doesn’t want to share debts or be responsible for one another’s health care. He said Berkeley’s Domestic Partnership Registry had also recently protected him and his partner from housing discrimination when a landlord attempted to evict them.

Councilman Kriss Worthington said he is not in favor of wiping out the Domestic Partner Registry until he has had the chance to discuss it with people who are registered in the program. He said that at least 1,000 people are enrolled in the registry, and that 15 of them registered after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in California.

“I’m gung-ho for having a marriage equality day,” Mr. Worthington said. “But to combine it with wiping out a program for a lot of people who want to make use of it makes no sense to me at all.”

According to the City of Berkeley website, unmarried couples of any gender who register with the Domestic Partnership Registration program are able to document their relationship. Registered domestic partners are exempt from the Real Property Transfer Tax when transferring property between partners. The website also notes that a registered domestic partnership may or may not be recognized and/or accepted by other businesses or government entities. City employees, who register with their Human Resources department, would not be affected by the closure of the Berkeley Domestic Partner Registry.

Berkeley couple Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, lead Prop. 8 plaintiffs, were the first same-sex couple to marry in California since 2008 when they wed at San Francisco City Hall on June 28.

If his resolution passes, Moore plans to officiate weddings at Berkeley’s Old City Hall on Martin Luther King Jr. Way on Oct. 11 from 6-8 p.m.

Related:
Berkeley Prop. 8 couple first to marry in state after stay lifted (06.28.13)
Obama lauds Berkeley couple who fought Prop. 8 and won (06.26.13)
Rainbow flag marks Supreme Court cases (03.26.13)
Berkeley couple at heart of Prop 8 case speak out (08.05.10)
Berkeley couple at center of same-sex marriage trial (01.11.10)

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  • chris lee

    Closing the domestic partnership registry doesn’t make sense and for once, I actually agree with Kriss Worthington on this! Besides, won’t the city lose out on money it generates when people register for a DP?

  • MMM

    I agree that it should be terminated. It seems like the idea of registering domestic partnerships was invented because gays were not allowed to get married. Now that they can do so, there is no reason to continue it. I’m sure that there are lots of phony domestic partnerships registered – people who are just sharing apartments, maybe very temporarily. If they aren’t really partners or don’t want the legal implications of marriage, why should they get the benefits?