City Council to Consider Changes to Domestic Partner Registry

Today I got word that City Councilor Bruce Kraus is introducing legislation to amend the City Code around the Domestic Partner Registry:


Bill No. 2013-1772 

Ordinance amending the Pittsburgh Code, Title One, Administrative, Article XI: Personnel, Chapter 186: Domestic Partnership and Common Law Spouse Benefits, by adding language in Section 186.04: Requirements for Mutual
Commitment Registry.



Be it resolved by the Council of the City of Pittsburgh as follows:


Section 1.      The Pittsburgh Code, Title One: Administrative, Article XI: Personnel, Chapter 186: Domestic Partnership and Common Law Spouse Benefits, by adding language in Section 186.04 (4): Requirements for Mutual Commitment Registry, is hereby amended as follows:



To be eligible to register a relationship of mutual commitment with the City of Pittsburgh, the two (2) individuals (the “declarants”) must meet the following criteria:

1.   Freely declare that they are solely and mutually committed to each other;

2.   Be persons eighteen (18) years of age or older and be unmarried according to the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania;

3.   Be competent to contract;

4.  Be residents of the City of Pittsburgh; or non-residents of the city of Pittsburgh subject to City wage tax under Section 246 (pertaining to tax on salaries, wages, commissions and other compensation of non-residents).

What changes? The underlined part. Now this is interesting because it allows employees of City businesses who reside outside of the City limits to obtain domestic partner benefits. On the one hand, that’s a positive expansion to allow more people to enroll and thus expand the scope of the Registry – important given the new requirement for contractors to offer domestic partner benefits.

It also, however, still covers employees who are exempted from the residency requirement. Sigh.

The sad thing to me is that the criteria to demonstrate mutual commitment remains very high, something I truly do not think the mostly middle class City elected officials and employees (transitional poverty perhaps?)  understand. As people have responded to my very loud complaining about the current health benefits audit, that has become very obvious – they don’t think about credit scores, being unbanked, lack of money for deposits, the homophobia of the customer service agents, the lack of money for a will or power of attorney documents and so forth. Nor do they think about the fact that the additional taxation of the health benefits (another $1k a year) will prevent families from saving up to obtain these important tools.

We shouldn’t deny people health care because they are poor. That’s unjust.

However, we also should keep track of affidavits so perhaps my expectations are a bit high for a City the size of Pittsburgh. We only have 3,800 employees.


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