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 unions.

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

“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.