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Cincinnati could soon have domestic partner registry

Council Member Chris Seelbach, Mayor Cranley and five other council members are supporting setting up a domestic partner registry.  

Seelbach said the city already has such a system for its own employees.

“So we would open up that qualification process for a fee to any private citizen,” Seelbach said.  “So the employer can say well if you’re registered with the city’s domestic partner registry then that means you qualify and we’ll give you equal partner health benefits.”

Seelbach said many firms may provide such health benefits, but they don't have the time to determine who qualifies and who doesn't.  The registry would make that eligibility information available to private firms.

“It’s a tool to allow private employers the opportunity to do the right thing if they want and give their gay/lesbian employees equal partner health benefits,” Seelbach said.  “So this is a tool that makes it easier for them to do that.”

Many firms in Cincinnati already offer health benefits to domestic partners of employees.  But unlike marriage, there are no uniform guidelines or central database to confirm the status of a relationship.  Seelbach said many companies said they do not have the time or energy to develop their own systems for who qualifies and who does not.

In order to participate in the registry people would have to provide documentation like wills, mortgages, or credit card statements.

“It’s to show that you financially interconnected,” Seelbach said.  “There’s more than just your saying that you’re in a relationship with someone, but you can actually prove through legal documents.”

The motion calls for a $45 fee to participate, and Seelbach expects it would be budget neutral for the city.  

Nine other cities in Ohio offer such a program, and so does Indianapolis.  

The proposal will be on the Council calendar Wednesday for referral to a committee and then city administrators will prepare a report on the idea.