South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

Domestic Registry law strenthened in city


Pittsburgh City Council recently strengthened the Domestic Partner Registry it has had on the books since 1999.

District 3 Councilman Bruce A. Kraus, along with Council President Doug Shields, presented the legislation that strengthens and adds procedures for registering and requiring the reporting the end of domestic partnerships between heterosexual and gay couples receiving city benefits.

"The purpose of the new registry is to allow the city to more efficiently administer its obligations to offer benefits to domestic partners. A secondary purpose is to make the city of Pittsburgh and other private and public employers of Pittsburgh more competitive in efforts to recruit employees," the councilman said.

Mr. Kraus said the legislation is also about being fiscally responsible. He noted that the 1999 legislation granting benefits to domestic partners offered no termination clause and didn't require employees to notify the city if the relationship ended.

The revised legislation, which passed city council by a vote of 8-1, not only requires the employee to notify the city if the event the relationship is terminated, but it also outlines what will be accepted by the city as proof of a relationship that qualifies for benefits.

Mr. Kraus said that some of the requirements for being a domestic partner under the legislation include: that the couple in the relationship be at least 18 years old and not related by blood in any way which would prohibit marriage in Pennsylvania; and be able to show three proofs of commitment such as: sharing a residence and providing proof of common ownership or lease, owning a motor vehicle together, sharing joint bank or credit accounts or having driver's licenses that list a common address.

According to the bill, the fee for filing a "Declaration of Mutual Commitment shall be $25 (consistent with what it now costs for a marriage license) and entitles the persons filing the declaration to two certified copies of the official statement. The Declaration of Mutual Commitment ends when one of the couple dies or one of both of the couple issues a notice of termination, which is now required at the end of the relationship.

Mr. Kraus said the registry will be kept with the city's personnel department.

Any resident of the city may register with the Domestic Partner Registry for the $25 filing fee and receive the official registration certificate. The councilman said this will help the 42 companies now offering domestic partner benefits in the city, but have no criteria for what constitutes a domestic partner.

He said those companies will now be able to accept the official city certification as proof of the partnership for receiving benefits.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl signed the legislation into law during the city's annual Pride Day celebration Downtown on June 22.


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