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What’s The Big Deal About Cleveland’s Domestic Partner Registry?


Today is the first time Cleveland’s gay couples can register their relationships with the government, albeit the local city government, and without actually receiving much, if anything, in return. Heteros are invited to sign up as well, but the database of names thus far has no mandatory impact. It does not change the tax code, it does not grant hospital visitation rights, nor does it do anything about bequeathing estates or sharing health care benefits. But protesters are still lined up, mostly ministers participating in something called the National Day of Prayer. (The registry’s list of supporters also includes members of faith communities.) So what does this registry do?

Legally, zero.

Since the city council approved the registry in December, advocates have called it one small step toward recognizing gay marriage. That’s also the argument conservative opponents are making.

But there are no binding terms here. Rather, for a $55 fee per couple, the registry provides a foundation for unmarried couples who live together to declare some officialese to their relationship, and allows hospitals, employers, service providers and other organizations to have a starting point if they choose to grant privileges usually reserved for married heteros.

Many folks saw the registry as an attempt to show the city, even with one of the fastest crumbling real estate markets, is a proper destination. Particularly for things like the Gay Games, which Cleveland wants to host for all the tax revenue it brings in. In the meantime, the registry is serving one great purpose: bringing together loving families in celebration.

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  • Alec

    A pointless registry in a state that has adopted one of the harshest bigot amendments out there, second only to Michigan and Nebraska, which I consider tied.

    And they want people to pay $55 for this? If an employer decides to offer domestic partnership benefits (worth asking, btw, whether the city offers them to its employees), they can simply have an employee sign a declaration that they’re living with their domestic partner, and have been for X amount of time. Since it confers no tangible benefits, I think it is pretty outrageous the city is actually charging a fee of $55 for a piece of paper.

  • Chris


    I think you’re missing the point here. The registry makes more of a statement than it does grant rights. As you obviously know, Ohio is extremely perverse in terms of its granting rights to the LGBTQ community, and every small step counts. Especially when something like this could serve as a stepping stone to something much bigger.

    Cincinnati’s next.

  • ML

    @Alec: Every positive step should be welcomed, no matter how small. Christian fundamentalism is strongly rooted in Ohio and any recognition of same sex couples will be met with resistance. It’s a good sign.

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