“Friends, straight or gay couples, cohabitating seniors and others could walk into the City-County Building, show evidence of their ‘mutual commitment,’ and come away with official recognition of their relationship under a proposal introduced by Pittsburgh Councilman Bruce Kraus yesterday. The proposed ‘domestic registry’ would allow certain city employees to share their fringe benefits with partners, and other employers could opt to treat registrants like married couples. More broadly, it would allow almost any two city residents to ‘legitimize their relationships and families,’ as Mr. Kraus put it.”
This is a good start. The important part from my point of view isn’t about gay couples, but friends and cohabitating seniors. It shouldn’t matter why two people choose to share their fortunes, only that they so choose. The bit about legitimizing relationships and families is where I part ways with Kraus, though. Here’s where I think he goes off the rails:
“‘It makes us a much more desirable location for young, bright, cutting-edge people who want to come in and live in progressive areas,’ said Mr. Kraus, who is openly gay. ‘It really is about being a good place to attract progressive employees and employers, and grow.'”
Attracting “progressive” employees is of absolutely no importance to me. Attracting good citizens who wish to set roots in Pittsburgh is. This shouldn’t be about furthering progressive ideals or recognizing gay relationships. This is about civil liberties and the freedom to choose the person with whom you will share your benefits.
“Under the legislation, any two unmarried city residents — unless they are related too closely to be married under state law — could apply with the city Personnel Department. They would have to show three pieces of documentation of ‘mutual responsibility,’ which can include loan papers, utility bills, insurance policies, wills, powers of attorney, contracts, motor vehicle titles, bank or credit account statements, or evidence of shared child care responsibility. They then would pay $25 to be certified in the ‘mutual commitment registry.’ The designation would apply until one party either presented an affidavit ending the relationship or died.”
This seems to be exactly the kind of contractually binding civil union I’ve alluded to. It’s also very similar to the solution the University of Pittsburgh found for gays demanding the ability to share benefits with their partners. IIRC, the university requires affidavits to recognize and cease recognition of domestic partnerships.
The only obvious flaw in Kraus’ proposal is that the state of Pennsylvania restricts how closely one may be related to one’s spouse. This isn’t a marriage, though, and close relations would be hurt by this restriction. For instance, two elderly sisters couldn’t register themselves as mutually committed despite sharing residence and financial burdens. Still, this is a good start toward getting the State to restrict itself control of contract regulation and enforcement, the Church to regain control of marriage, and the People to regain control of their lives, their liberties, and their property.