City pulls back on closing Domestic Partnership Registry

Councilman Darryl Moore. March 5, 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Councilman Darryl Moore. Photo: Emilie Raguso

After briefly considering the closure of Berkeley’s Domestic Partnership Registry prior to this week’s City Council meeting, officials decided instead to simply celebrate its 22nd anniversary.

Councilman Darryl Moore had originally submitted an item for council review that would have closed down the registry following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year in favor of marriage equality in California.

Said one member of the public, Leland Traiman, who spoke about the item, “It’s really window dressing at this point. It doesn’t mean anything.” Traiman is a gay rights activist who helped craft Berkeley’s domestic partnership policies. Those policies, adopted in 1984, were “the first time in world history same sex couples were granted any of the Rights of Marriage,” according to the city staff report prepared for the week’s council meeting.

Tuesday night, after some pushback from the public about his resolution, Moore submitted a revised item asking just that the council recognize the registry’s 22nd anniversary, and declare Oct. 11 “Marriage Equality Day” in Berkeley.

There wasn’t much discussion on the resolution, which was on the council’s consent calendar. But Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates did said the city should, in the future, take a harder look at the registry, adding that it can be used “as a tax dodge” or for other nefarious purposes.

On Oct. 11, Moore — the first openly gay African American council member elected in Berkeley’s history — plans to officiate weddings at Berkeley’s Old City Hall from 6-8 p.m. Councilman Kriss Worthington also plans to officiate at least one wedding ceremony that evening, of Karl Reeh and Anghel Mugur, described by Worthington — who is also openly gay — as “outstanding local leaders.”

A related item Tuesday night at the Berkeley City Council recognized Berkeley parents Kriss Perry and Sandy Stier for their efforts fighting Proposition 8 all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Perry and Stier were one of two couples who were litigants in the case. They were also the first same-sex couple to marry in California since 2008 when they wed at San Francisco City Hall in June.

See a video of Kriss and Stier below, along with the reading of the resolution and a recitation of a poem written by Worthington for the occasion.

Related:
Berkeley to look at closing Domestic Partnership Registry (09.30.13)
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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  • Tizzielish

    What about female-male domestic partnerships? If we eliminate the registry, how will they register their partnerships? Fair is fair. Gays get to marry, nongays get to register as domestic partners. Not that there is anything wrong with gays marrying and unmarried cohabiting any combo.

  • David D.

    Please forgive my ignorance, but why does the city have a domestic partnership registry? Isn’t this something maintained by counties and/or the state? I’m all for keeping it if there aren’t county or state registries, but otherwise its maintenance is a waste of city employee time and taxpayer money. Just because it is a historical registry doesn’t mean we need to keep it active.

  • FiatSlug

    The bigger question is, “what does a Domestic Partnership Registry afford an opposite sex couple that marriage does not?”

    Put another way, if you’re part of any couple in the post-Hollingsworth vs. Perry world, why would you prefer domestic partnership to marriage?

    Fair is fair.

  • AnthonySanchez

    we need to think about closing the registry more carefully and perhaps get some more information first rather than rush to make a symbolic gesture that may have some practical harm.

    For instance, California’s Domestic Partnership Registry is not the same and is limited to same sex couples or elderly couples -opposite sex couples under the age of Social Security benefits are excluded. However, Berkeley’s registry is inclusive of any committed relationship -same or opposite sex, but the proposal presumes that only same sex couples are beneficiaries -an issue now moot given the State Registry and Same-Sex Marriage, but no so for opposite sex couples.

    There are legitimate reasons why opposite sex couples may wish to be domestic partners instead of marriage or in the interim before marriage, especially for individuals of my generation. In my case, my fiancee and I have been living together for over 3 years now and we are no different than any other committed relationship. However, for reasons that I do not have to share, we decided not to get married until a certain point (which is now actually in a month -hooray!), but we become registered partners over a year ago since it did not make sense that we couldn’t enjoy the benefits of being in a committed relationship while waiting to be married, even though the only difference with our relationship was a legal piece of paper that we purposely wanted to hold off on.

    Additionally, our office has had many same sex couples call our office explaining that they prefer to remain on Berkeley’s registry and that they purposely chose Berkeley’s over the State’s.

    Again, I am happy that the Councilmember has brought this forward, but let’s look at the practical issues before we move ahead with any decision.

  • AnthonySanchez

    The program is revenue neutral (meaning, it pays for itself).

    As for its practical benefits, the State registry precludes opposite sex couples unless one is eligible for Social Security retirement.

    There are a lot of legitimate reasons, both personal and practical, to prefer domestic partnerships over marriage -a cultural institution sanctioned by the State.

  • AnthonySanchez

    I understand that Berkeleyside has only so much bandwidth, but can this story be expanded to look at the differences between the State Registry and Berkeley’s? To look at how many couples and what types of couples are currently on the Registry? To look at who are the couples who have join since the Supreme Court ruling, and why?

    There is so much information that needs to be provided, or otherwise people will simply think this is just a duplicative program rendered moot by inclusive legal Marriage when there are more issues at play here.

    Also, my generation sees marriage very differently and that needs to be explored, too. We get married much later, but that does not mean we do not have long-term meaningful relationships that are in effect marriage. Marriage is a cultural and symbolic designation that incidentally provides legal and practical benefits. Domestic Partnerships recognizes our relationships that are no different from anyone else’s for the purposes of limited benefits that we all deserve without having to be “married,” which means a much more specific level of relationship for people our age -something we feel should only happen when we are “ready” and of a certain age. Hell, I thought I wasn’t going to get married until I was 35, like many people do now.

  • AnthonySanchez

    Many couples, both gay and straight, have meaningful long-term, if not lifelong, relationships but do not want to get married (for varied personal and practical reasons).

    As silly as that may sound, we shouldn’t judge those reasons of those lifestyles and cultural point of views and we shouldn’t care since there is no practical difference between the two in many regards and it doesn’t harm you or anyone else.

    We should learn about these relationships before projecting a dominant point of view of Marriage that is not accepted by everyone, particular our younger generation that has redefined sex, love, and marriage just as the previous generation once did.

  • AnthonySanchez

    And it is not your ignorance -I am sure everyone has the same, reasonable assumption that you regarding the Registry.

    It is our fault, both the City and Media, for not providing all the relevant information to understand the issue and make an informed decision.

    I am sure most people don’t know that our registry allows for opposite sex couples and that the State registry does not (unless one person is over 62 years old). Also, socially, I don’t narratives have received much attention about many people view marriage much differently that others, particularly young people.

    In a way, I am glad the proposal of the registry was brought forward because we are having this conversation and it is a great opportunity for us to learn about such a meaningful, personal issue that intersects with State and its ability to bestow certain rights AND sanction meaning.

  • guest
  • AnthonySanchez

    Well aware. But given that my relationship has only been 3 1/2 years, I wouldn’t qualify, and neither would a lot of serious, long-term but sub 7 year relationships.

  • AnthonySanchez