Berkeley councilmember Darryl Moore’s proposal to declare Marriage Equality Day is polluted by inclusion of a damaging provision that would close down the city’s Domestic Partnership Registry.
The city Registry is more than symbolic, unlike a “day” declaration. The Registry offers unique legal protections that are not otherwise available to some Berkeleyans.
For example, some couples avoid marriage because they have unique circumstances where marriage or state-level domestic partnership would jeopardize military pensions, Social Security, or one partner’s credit rating; would cause one partner to become responsible for another’s debts; or would cause one partner to be bankrupted by the other’s medical expenses.
However, Berkeley couples (gay or straight) in such circumstances can still register as Domestic Partners at the city level. That does NOT affect those other legal or financial matters, but does offer critical legal protections.
This happened to me: our landlord tried to evict my partner from our apartment, but was thwarted because we are registered in Berkeley as Domestic Partners, giving us protection from discrimination based on familial status. Our particular personal situations make it legally disadvantageous to marry or to register with the State as domestic partners, while having the City Domestic Partnership Registry available literally saved our home.
Taking away a real legal protection and replacing it with a symbolic declaration is not a move forward. Marriage Equality Day is a great idea. Closing the city’s Domestic Partnership registry is not.
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