February 01, 2012With a unanimous vote, the Clayton Board of Aldermen adopted a law establishing a domestic partnership registry in the city.
The board approved the domestic partnership registry with a 7-0 vote at its Jan. 24 meeting. The registry is considered a complement to legislation the board passed last November which made it unlawful in the city to discriminate based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
The law is intended to make it easier for institutions and businesses to identify recipients of their benefit plans, open access to facilities that allow family memberships, and give widowed seniors certain benefits without putting them at risk of losing benefits from Social Security or a deceased spouse's pension. The registry does not assure property rights granted only by the state of Missouri.
Prior to the vote, several aldermen expressed support for the registry.
"I am very excited for the opportunity to pass this. This is a statement that all are welcome and all are respected in Clayton," said Alderman Cynthia Garnholz.
"I echo that, and I hope other municipalities will follow us, and I hope it gets to the (St. Louis) County Council at some point," said Alderman Andrea Maddox-Dallas.
Currently St. Louis city, Olivette and University City have domestic partnership registries. Although he did not speak, University City Alderman Terry Crow was in attendance at the Clayton meeting and was acknowledged by members of the board. Crow was a proponent of University City's registry when it was approved in the spring of 2011.
At the Jan. 24 meeting, of the three residents who spoke on the issue, all were in favor of the registry.
"I am in support of this," said Ed Harris, a rabbi and psychologist. "It ensures that all families are welcome in Clayton ... committed couples who are not married do not have to feel like strangers."
To file for a domestic partnership, a couple must complete paperwork that can be obtained from the city clerk, and they must meet certain requirements. Those requirements include having resided together in Clayton for at least six months and being at least 18 years of age. There will be a $50 fee to file for the registry, or to file for the termination of a partnership.
Both heterosexual and homosexual couples may sign up for the registry.
"I want to thank my board for this," said Mayor Linda Goldstein. "I am proud of the Clayton community, and I am proud to be joining Olivette, University City and St. Louis City. I take great pride in what we did."