With all the excitement about Vermont, we don't want to overlook this good news from the heartland that occurred...
Domestic partners are now legally recognized in Columbia after a unanimous City Council vote. Elected leaders approved the new domestic partner registry Monday night. St. Louis, Kansas City and Jackson County already have such registries.
The affirmative vote comes after months of lobbying by local advocates working in concert with PROMO and capped an evening of testimony by Columbia citizens on the need for such a registry. The ordinance would be open to any couple who have resided together for at least six months, intend to reside with one another and share the common necessities of life, and are each 18 years of age or older. The registry is open to persons regardless of whether the couples are opposite-sex or same-sex. In Columbia, the domestic partner registry will allow domestic partners and their minor dependents to use and access Columbia City facilities with the same rights and privileges accorded to spouses and children and may be used as proof of relationship status for employer benefit plans and for hospital and nursing home visitation policies.
...A.J. Bockelman, Executive Director of PROMO, Missouri's statewide organization advocating for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons, said of the Columbia City Council decision, "We at PROMO are very happy to have been part of the months-long process of successfully making this ordinance a reality, and we're thrilled that Columbia has taken this important step toward recognizing that families and relationships come in many forms."
Bockelman concluded by putting tonight's vote in perspective. "While I am gratified by the fair-minded decision of the Columbia City Council, the significance of its passage just days after the Iowa marriage equality decision cannot be ignored. Domestic partnership is a significant first step, but it is just that: a single step toward equality. There are 114 counties and hundreds of cities in Missouri. Tonight we have domestic partnership registries in one of those counties and three of those cities. One city, one county, one person at a time, we are winning the hearts and minds of Missourians. I am deeply encouraged by what happened tonight in Columbia, and I'm more confident than ever that justice, fairness, and equality will finally prevail, but I recognize that the fight is far from over."
Each step forward counts, and when the good news flows it feels great to report it. It sure beats watching marriage amendments pass.
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