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Published: Tuesday, 11/6/2007

Domestic partners' registry proposed for Toledo

McNamara McNamara
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Gay couples would be allowed to register their "domestic partnership" with the clerk of Toledo City Council under an ordinance to be introduced tomorrow.

Councilman Joe McNamara, a Democrat, said the ordinance does not create same-sex marriage and won't cost the city a penny, but would bring economic development benefits to Toledo.

Businesses increasingly are extending benefits to employees' domestic partners, and a registry would give employers some assurance that people seeking benefits under that heading have a legitimate relationship, he said.

"This is a creative-class-driven issue. Studies have shown a community that's accepting is more attractive to the creative class," Mr. McNamara said. "Something like this helps Toledo's reputation, whether or not it's used."

Whether the entire 12-member council will see it that way is not clear. A council committee will hold a hearing on the proposed domestic partner registry at 3 p.m. Friday in council chambers in Government Center.

David Mann, president of EqualityToledo, a nonprofit group that advocates marital status for same-sex partners, said numerous states, cities, and counties offer domestic registry, including the city of Cleveland Heights in Ohio.

"It's something we know will cost the city of Toledo nothing to do, but will provide real benefit for those families and an opportunity to have their relationship recognized," he said.

To qualify for the registry, both members of the partnership would sign an affidavit stating that they are in an intimate relationship, share the same residence, are at least 18, are not married to anyone else, and are not blood relatives.

The fee would be $25. The couple would obtain a certificate and a card to carry. The partnership could be dissolved with a notice of termination filed by either party. Neither party could form a new partnership until their previous partnership has been officially terminated or the previous partner dies.

Republican Councilman George Sarantou said he hasn't decided whether to support the registry. He said he wants to check that it doesn't conflict with the constitutional amendment Ohio voters approved in 2004 prohibiting same-sex marriage.

"I want to hear what it's all about, how that would blend in with Ohio law," Mr. Sarantou said.

The ordinance is different from one introduced, and then withdrawn, five years ago by Wade Kapszukiewicz, then a city councilman and now Lucas County treasurer.

That ordinance aimed to provide medical benefits to the domestic partners of city employees, which would have added to the city's expenses. It would not have established a domestic partner registry.

Since then, city police and fire unions have negotiated benefits in their collective bargaining agreements that allow police officers and firefighters to take sick leave and funeral leave for domestic partners as they do for other immediate family members.

- Tom Troy



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