Phoenix City Council approved a
resolution on Wednesday to create a gay domestic partner registry.
The new registry only guarantees the
right to visit a partner while in a Phoenix hospital, nursing home,
rehabilitation center and other health-care facilities.
The measure, which goes into effect
February 9, was passed by a unanimous vote of 6-0. Phoenix joins
Tucson as the only two cities in Arizona to recognize gay and lesbian
Arizona is one of three states where
voters agreed to alter their state constitution to restrict marriage
to heterosexual couples in November. Thirty states now ban gay
marriage constitutionally. Many others forbid the practice by law.
In states where constitutional
amendments ban gay marriage, registries appears to be gaining
momentum as the new compromise. Cleveland recently approved a
registry and Utah will consider one next month.
“It is possible that domestic
partnerships, civil unions and other recognition can be used to
educate voters about the rights and benefits that have been stripped
away from so many people because of those amendments,” Steve Ralls,
director of communications for Parents, Families and Friends of
Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), told On Top Magazine.
Registries, however, lack the real
muscle found in marriage or even civil unions – most benefits
extended to couples are voluntary – but do offer a symbolic step in
the right direction.
Registry backers in Phoenix point out
that the registry is helpful in granting hospital visitation rights
to gay and lesbian couples.
“It boils down to a basic human
right, and as we enter this holiday season, the issue is even more
pronounced,” openly gay Phoenix Councilman Tom Simplot told the
Arizona political news website azcentral.com.
“If you are sick or injured and lying
in a hospital bed, you should have the right to have your significant
other at your bedside,” he said.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's
largest gay and lesbian rights advocate, issued a statement praising
city leaders: “Today, the city of Phoenix has begun to recognize
what we have known for a long time – that our relationships are
just as true, meaningful, and deserving of legal protections as
anyone else's. With this registry, we can feel confident that we can
visit our loved ones in medical facilities at a time when they need
us most. We thank Mayor Phil Gordon, Councilman Tom Simplot and the
entire city council for taking this step towards equality.”
Phoenix Councilman Tom Simplot
introduced the measure.