Coming soon to your town: Domestic Partner Registries

Coming soon to your town: Domestic Partner Registries

By Carol Soelberg

In cities and counties across the country we are hearing of efforts being made to implement domestic partnership registries as a means to “satisfy the needs” of homosexual couples who can not be legally married.  While these communities are committed to families and children, many individuals don’t realize that such a registry is not only unnecessary, but has the unintended consequence of undermining marriage and family.

“Domestic partner registries” have the legal effect of creating an imitation marriage status for persons who are unwilling to marry or who are ineligible to marry under state law. It gives some legal recognition to domestic partnerships and cohabitation of the same or opposite sex.  It sends a message that alternative relationships are good for society.  There is a wealth of empirical data and studies that show that domestic partnerships and cohabitation are relationships that are less stable and more burdensome on society in matters of child welfare, health care, drugs and alcohol, poverty, domestic violence and crime.

Proponents of these registries rely heavily on the argument that there is a problem with hospital visitation rights for unmarried couples.  We empathize with these couples’ concerns and their desire for visitation rights, and are glad to report that the Uniform Health-Care Decisions Act passed in 1997  requires hospitals to recognize visitation and surrogate decision-making designations contained in advanced health-care directives.  In the absence of such a directive, the statute requires hospitals to recognize “an individual in a long-term relationship with the patient…with a commitment similar to a spouse.”

This federal provision is especially suitable for meeting all hospital-related needs of unmarried couples whether heterosexual or same-sex.  If hospitals are not complying with this law the solution is in requiring compliance with the existing law—not creating a new and unnecessary ordinance.

If indeed the proposed ordinance is about protecting visitation rights, I hardly think individuals in any type of relationship would choose to go to city hall, fill out paper work for a domestic partner registry and pay the necessary fees when they could go the admitting area of any hospital and for free obtain a Medical Power of Attorney form.  The hospitals will also notarize the form for free if you are planning to be a patient there and some will notarize for free even if you’re not.  A notarized Medical Power of Attorney in your possession is a more reliable instrument, than a name on a registry down at city hall.

The simplicity of this solution—already in place—leaves one to wonder if there are other motives involved in the pursuit of these registries.   Could this be a “bock-door” approach to procuring civil unions and eventually legalizing same-sex marriage?

Strong traditional marriage benefits individuals and society as a whole:   economically, physically, and emotionally; something that alternative relationships cannot match.  I urge all citizens to be aware of efforts being made in your community to obtain such an ordinance. Please encourage members of your City council to devote time and energy to developing policies that are truly necessary AND that support, rather than undermine, marriage.

For information on the impact of cohabiting relationships (“living together”) on both children and adults, go here

For information on the impact of  same-sex behavior and relationships, go here.

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