EC Drops Ball on Domestic Registry

It's kind of like dressing up as a child and pretending you're a police officer or some other adult occupation, or maybe it's more akin to playing house.

Equality Cincinnati (EC), a gay rights group, will have a booth on Fountain Square during this weekend's Equinox Pride festival. During the event, EC will unveil its new domestic partner registry. Same-sex couples can sign the registry to show their symbolic commitment to one another.—-

No offense, but so what?

As this blog first mentioned in November 2008, Cleveland officials began mulling the creation of a registry there. City Council ultimately approved the concept, and the registry began issuing certificates to couples in May 2009.

Cleveland was the third Ohio city to create such a registry, after Cleveland Heights and Toledo.

Although the registry doesn’t grant couples any legal rights per se, it does allow those who are living together and responsible for each other’s welfare to obtain a certificate from the city. The document, in turn, could be used to help secure benefits from employers and insurance companies in some instances.

But EC's registry has no official sanction, and seems designed to make people feel good and like they're taking some sort of action.

The frustrating part of this effort is that Cincinnati was well on its way to having a domestic partnership registry at City Hall until Equality Cincinnati put the brakes on it.

Around the time of Cleveland's action, blogger Jason Haap and queer activist Barry Floore began advocating the concept to Cincinnati City Council, and it appeared they had a majority ready to support the proposal. Little surprise, because a registry becomes a revenue generator for municipal governments and — as we all know — the city of Cincinnati has been beset with financial problems in recent years.

Haap and Floore ended their push, however, after EC asked them to do so. The group was working behind-the-scenes to get city officials to extend employee benefits to the same-sex partners of its workers. Equality Cincinnati leaders thought the registry effort would draw the attention of conservatives like Tom Brinkman Jr. and Chris Finney, who might sue the city and scare officials away from considering the extension of benefits.

Now, more than a year later, the city of Cincinnati has neither a registry nor benefits for same-sex partners, at least as of the last time I checked at City Hall.

In an online conversation with Haap, EC member Matt Murray said, “At this time, it is EC's effort only and will have no legal ramifications. But this is a first step for a larger goal to be more like the cities you mentioned. Benefits for partners of city employees is a goal. We will have a more formal explanation coming soon but for now we are accumulating data to support are future goals. I guess the answer to your question is: It's very symbolic.”

Haap told CityBeat, "I was part of an effort to implement a real DP Registry back in December, and we had substantial support on City Council. Then Equality Cincinnati came along and squelched our efforts. Now they want to have a pretend registry for symbolic purposes? Why not just go for pretend and symbolic marriages? This is a weird kind of play-acting from an alleged activist organization."

True words, indeed.

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