Pittsburgh Domestic Registry a Good Idea

Pittsburgh City Councilman Bruce Kraus has introduced a proposal to City Council that would take a step toward getting the State out of the marriage business by setting up a “domestic registry“.

“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.

Comments 7

  1. Mark Rauterkus wrote:

    Right!

    Also, what about a mom and a child, just as two who are siblings. Seen it. Happens. But, I guess they have ‘rights’ anyway. “next of kin”

    But generally, in the Bruce Kraus world, questions that begin with “why” and “how” are wasted breath. He is generally clueless as to the logic and deep-thought elements that drive principles.

    His best course of action is to say as little as possible. If he only did more an talked less, he might save face.

    I have other reservations too. Frankly, I don’t like the expansion of government.

    Posted 04 Jun 2008 at 1:07 pm
  2. Funky Dung wrote:

    It seems pretty mild as government expansions go. In fact, I’d hesitate to call it an expansion at all because it relates to contract law, whcih should be the primary concern of the State.

    Posted 04 Jun 2008 at 1:12 pm
  3. gbm3 wrote:

    In fact, I’d hesitate to call it an expansion at all because it relates to contract law, whcih [sic] should be the primary concern of the State.

    Yes, but what contracts should be made? I’m working on a post that gets into this. Many of the ideas I’ll probably talk about are from here: http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=1088 .

    In other words, in the old system, the state presumed the existence of a substantive, natural reality that required legal adumbration: the union of a man and a woman, and the children resulting from their sexual relations. Now the Canadian government sees that it must intervene and redefine marriage and parenthood in order to give fixed legal standing to otherwise fluid and uncertain social relations. When the gay friend donates his sperm to the surrogate mother hired by a lesbian couple, the resulting “family” is a purely legal construct, one that requires the power of state to enforce contracts and attach children to adoptive parents.
    The result is the opposite of the libertarian dream of freedom. As Farrow observes, with gay marriage we are giving over the family to the state to define according to the needs of the moment. The upshot, he worries, will be a dangerous increase in the power of the state to define our lives in other realms once thought sacrosanct. “Remove religiously motivated restrictions on marriage,” he writes, “and it is much easier to remove religiously motivated restrictions on human behavior in general, and on the state’s power to order human society as it sees fit.” The libertarian dream turns into the totalitarian nightmare. Who can or cannot be a spouse? That’s for the state to decide. To whom do children belong? It’s up to the state to assign parents as its social workers and judges think best.

    Posted 06 Jun 2008 at 9:25 pm
  4. John wrote:

    This would seem to be a contraction of government powers. You are stripping it of the ability to regulate marriages and instead giving it a different watered down version of that authority.

    Also, gbm3, you are utterly incoherent. You say that the only way to prevent the government from having the authority to control our lives as it sees fit is to ensure that it controls our lives in the manner that you see fit.

    You also make the tacit arguments that “Gay == Hitler;” which does not thrill me.

    Posted 08 Jun 2008 at 12:47 am
  5. gbm3 wrote:

    Also, gbm3, you are utterly incoherent. You say that the only way to prevent the government from having the authority to control our lives as it sees fit is to ensure that it controls our lives in the manner that you see fit.

    Before I respond, could you elaborate on this comment. To what (quotes of mine) are you specifically referring?

    You also make the tacit arguments that “Gay == Hitler;” which does not thrill me.

    Where do you see this argument?

    Posted 08 Jun 2008 at 10:43 am
  6. gbm3 wrote:

    John, I’m also confused about your comment since I didn’t really say anything in this post: I quoted a First Things daily “on the square” thing above. What are you talking about (what quote of mine)? I’m also concerned (or something) since you used a Hitler analogy.

    Posted 09 Jun 2008 at 8:43 pm
  7. Tom Smith wrote:

    “You also make the tacit arguments that ‘Gay == Hitler;’ which does not thrill me.”

    ?

    Posted 14 Jun 2008 at 7:39 pm

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