Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman today introduced legislation for the creation of a domestic partner registry for gay and straight couples in the city.

Supporters of the measure say the non-binding registry gives gay couples a sense of legitimacy when seeking out rights and benefits offered by employers.

They also point out that the registry will bolster Cleveland's image as a gay-friendly town as it bids to host the 2014 Gay Games, an international gay and lesbian sporting event. Other American cities included in the running are Boston and Miami. Chicago, which hosted the event in 2006, estimates it attracted 140,000 visitors to its Lake Michigan shores with an overall economic impact of $50-to-$80 million. Cologne, Germany has been selected to host the 2010 games.

“This is beyond bringing the Gay Games to our city and generating revenue, it is about equality for all to include the gay community and those that wish to sign a statement affirming that they are each other's sole domestic partner,” openly gay Councilman Joe Santiago told city leaders.

But questions over passage remain in a state where voters approved one of the toughest gay marriage bans in the country four years ago. Ohio's constitution forbids any marriage-like benefits to gay couples.

Proponents of the gay registry, however, remain confident that they have the votes for passage and also point out that the legislation is modeled after a similar registry approved by voters in Cleveland Heights, a small suburb east of Cleveland, in 2003, which has already withstood a legal challenge.

“I think the chances of it passing are very good,” Santiago told On Top Magazine.