City Kicks-Off Domestic Partner Registry

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click to enlarge Andrew Hickman and Ethan Fletcher sign Cincinnati's domestic partner registry.
Andrew Hickman and Ethan Fletcher sign Cincinnati's domestic partner registry.

Cincinnati’s LGBT community can celebrate another move toward legal equality today — City Council kicked off its domestic partner registry this morning on the steps of City Hall.

The registry is designed to give couples in a domestic partnership a legal record of their relationship. This will make it easier for employers or hospitals to extend health care benefits to partners of employees.

The measure was unanimously passed by City Council back in June.

Chris Seelbach, who spearheaded the project and is the city’s first openly gay councilman, called the registry “…one of the last pieces of the puzzle to bring full equality to the laws and the policies to the city.”

Many large companies already offer domestic partner benefits, but the registry will help small companies that don’t have the time or resources to verify a couple’s status.  “The city has taken on the legwork for proving what domestic partnerships are, so that small companies don’t have to come up with a whole variety of ways to determine that,” said John Boggess, board chair of Equality Ohio, an LGBT rights group.

Boggess noted that Cincinnati is the 10th city in Ohio to offer a registry; Toledo, Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland are a few that already do.

Ethan Fletcher, 30, and Andrew Hickam, 29, a couple from Walnut Hills, were the first to sign up on Thursday morning outside of City Hall. “We’re excited that this is actually going to be the first legal document affirming our commitment to each other,” Hickman said.

He and Fletcher are one of six couples suing the state of Ohio in federal court for the right to marry. “This is a great a step towards, eventually, full marriage recognition,” Hickman said.

The registration will run through the City Clerk’s office and cost $45, which is “budget neutral” for the city, Seelbach said.

Still, officials were quick to note that the fight towards full equality for Ohio’s LGBT citizens isn’t over. Karen Morgan, steering committee co-chair on Greater Cincinnati’s Human Rights Campaign, said “Ohio remains one of the only states where citizens can be denied housing or employment based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.” In addition, Ohio doesn’t allow same-sex couples to adopt children or transgender people to change their names on their birth certificates.

“We celebrate today with what has happened…but we also realize that there’s still a very long road to go before all Ohioans are valued,” Boggess said.

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