Domestic Registry Passes First Hurdle

As reported by the PG web-edition, City Council gave a thumbs up on the first vote for the domestic partner registry.  The lone naysayer was the Reverend Ricky Burgess.  Final vote will be next week.  No word on how the Mayor feels about all this registry stuff, but it appears veto proof at this stage of the game.

Sigh.  I am only speculating here, but my guess is that Reverend Burgess is sticking with the right wing rhetoric that even second class relationship civil rights are too much for Pittsburgh's homosexuals.  This new system is just a scooch along the path toward anything resembling civil unions in Pennsylvania.  Barely a scooch.  Way more important to this lesbian is the probability that this registry will help our family keep our domestic partner benefits if Ledcat's job is merged into the County.  Which is unlikely given her job, but it is good to be prepared.  Like Boy Scouts.  Only with labia.

I emailed Councilmen Shields and Kraus (no “e”) asking for their thoughts on how the registry requirements might impact low income families, suggesting that the City compile a guide on how to meet the registry requirements.  The most vulnerable families are those least likely to afford things like attorney fees for wills and those most likely to have financial and credit blemishes impacting their economic stability.  Thus, they are most in need of the registry benefits (if any are available to them). 

And, to be honest, some of the requirements are a bit arduous.  I went through the process of adding my name to the household utility bills and it was a pain.  Lots of red tape and questions and three way phone calls.  It would be great if the City could put together a simple how to list to make things easier.  I would hate to see this great new resource benefit only those of us who have the luxury of joint credit cards and power of attorney documents.  That would be a great shame. 

You know … that would be a great project for the Mayor's new LGBT Advisory Board with input from his LGBT Liaison.  Oh, except for the little detail that he hasn't appointed any of those people.  Darn. 

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  • I know for a fact that Burgess holds the conviction that full and equal civil rights are non-negotiable; that's why he voted in favor of the Will of Council resolution adding 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity and expression' as protected classes of the state Human Relations Act.
    I also know that Kraus and Burgess had a friendly and exhaustive discussion or two about this legislation … but obviously the Rev wouldn't get on board this one.
    I suspect it has something to do with the fact that, by the sponsor's own admission, the legislation doesn't alter the legal landscape at all, or grant new privileges on its own. It is merely an avenue by which the city can sanction, or “bless”, homosexual unions. (Maybe I shouldn't say 'merely', because that can mean a lot, particularly to gay folk shopping around for places to live, and it also invites 3rd parties to 'buy in' to the concept and grant real benefits on their own initiative.)
    It appears Burgess concluded (speculation alert!) that the government doesn't have any obligation to condone or sanction any relationships, and so given his own religious beliefs, he preferred the city not go out of its way to 'give its blessing' to gay ones simply for the sake of making a positive statement.
    Or I could be getting it wrong. You should ask him. You won't get an answer that fully satisfies you, but I know you'll get a more thoughtful view than your typical “right wing rhetoric.”
    One more thing — “Way more important to this lesbian is the probability that this registry will help our family keep our domestic partner benefits if Ledcat's job is merged into the County.” — I'm pretty sure this is not the case, unless I'm missing something.

  • With regard to a merger, I presume you mean that the registry will not be a negotiating tool to extend domestic partner benefits to County employees. I hope it will. I hope the City does a full court press on this particular issue if and when the time comes. Onorato's claims about the budget are ridiculous and I'm sure the number crunchers out there could delve into the county budget to demonstrate the point.
    I think you give too much credit to Burgess' convictions around gay civil rights. He did vote in favor of the Will of Council, but he did not cosponsor it. It may be a fine distinction, but certainly one that tamps down the rhetoric of “full and equal civil rights are non-negotiable.” Burgess does not believe in gay marriage which is part of the “full and equal” package. He's good on other issues, but I think your statements warrant some equivocating.
    I don't want to harass the poor man, especially given his recent loss, but the truth is that creating tiers of civil rights based on religious beliefs has already failed. I deserve every right afforded to Reverend Burgess because I am also human being.
    That being said, I'm not interested in debating marriage protections with City Council persons. I am interested in the process of accessing our domestic partner benefits and the extension of those benefits to other public employees in the region. I am interested in making the registry useful and useable by marginalized non-traditional families.

  • I would hope the City engages in a full-court press on domestic partner benefits, even as the City brings a tight enough game to the table with the county on many other things. Agreed.
    IMO, marriage no civil right. Those partnership benefits which government chooses to accord this thing we call marriage are civil rights by way of equal protection. Marriage is an issue to take up among religious institutions, and partnership benefits are an issue to take up among those who, by law or by custom, accord these benefits.

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