The Pittsburgh City Council gave final approval today to a domestic partner registry. The registry will provide a standard for employers to allow workers to share benefits with their partners. Openly gay city council member and former Victory Fund endorsee Bruce Kraus wrote the legislation.
The legislation passed by a vote of 7-1 and brought cheers from several people in the audience who were at the meeting to receive a proclamation for Pride Week events. Kraus said that the legislation shows that “Pittsburgh is in fact a very progressive and forward-thinking city.”
The legislation drew two opponents to council’s public comment period, including one who called it “a black eye for the city” leading to “Sodom and Gomorrah.”
Delta Foundation Board Member Keri Harmicar countered that “every single person in this city, and this country, and this world, has a right to happiness” and that means embracing different sexual orientations.
The legislation allows any two city residents — unless they are too closely related to be married under state law — to show documentary evidence of their commitment, pay $25, and be registered.
If one is a city employee, then the couple would immediately become eligible to share benefits. The city has long offered benefits to domestic partners and common law spouses of its employees, but the new legislation tightens up definitions.
Other employers could opt to accept the registrations for the purpose of granting shared benefits, but would not be obligated to do so.
Council added an amendment making the names on the registry — but not any supporting documentation of mutual commitment — public records.