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‘Domestic partner registries:’ little-known homosexual strategy

ASHLAND, Ore.(BP)–When city council members in Ashland, Ore., voted 3-1 Oct. 5 to establish a registry in which same-sex couples could document their relationship, they joined in a movement now encompassing nearly 50 other local government across the nation.
While statewide battles have raged the last three years in Hawaii, Alaska and Vermont over the issue of same-sex marriages, municipalities and county governments in response to constituents’ requests have quietly been setting up what are being called “domestic partner registries.”
A list of domestic partnership registries can be found at www.buddybuddy.com, maintained by a homosexual rights webmaster known only by the first name of Demian.
The accuracy of this list couldn’t be verified by deadline.
Catherine Shaw, Ashland’s mayor for 11 years, who votes only to break a tie, said, “If a certain segment of the population comes to us with a request that requires no public funds and little or no effort on the part of city government, and brings them peace of mind and helps loving human beings further commit to each other, I don’t see why we shouldn’t do it.”
Besides, although they have no force of law, the registries produce income for the city. In Ashland, starting Nov. 1, couples who pay $25 and meet two requirements — at least age 18; same sex — will receive a cream-colored certificate edged in black. The couples can keep the commitment private or add their names to the city’s list of registered partners.
When asked what she saw as the long-term ramifications of the city’s decision, the mayor said, “I think the effect remains primarily with those who hold the paper. The couples who choose to take advantage of the registry. The impact remains solely with them.”
Not so, said Barrett Duke, a spokesman with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“I think there are a lot of people out there who believe they do not have a right to impose their own moral values on others,” Duke observed. “They’re willing to let other people make decisions about their lives as long as it doesn’t affect them, and they don’t see it will have any impact on their own lifestyles.”
But, Duke noted, “They fail to recognize that acceptance of the new relationships is a first step toward the breakdown of their own lifestyles.
“These folks do not understand that when (pre- and extra-marital) sexual relationships are encouraged and same-sex marriages allowed, their children will be exposed to a much different mess than they were exposed to,” Duke said. “What for us is considered fringe, our children will consider normal and the next step — whatever it might be — can be taken toward the further abolishment of the nuclear family.”
The domestic partnership certificate reads: “We, the undersigned, declare that: we are residing together and sharing the common necessities of life. We are not married. We are both at least 18 years of age. We are not related by blood kinship closer than would bar marriage in the State of Oregon and are mentally competent to consent to contract. We are each other’s sole domestic partner and intend to remain so indefinitely and are responsible for each other’s common welfare. We are ineligible under the laws of the State of Oregon to be married to each other.”
If the relationship is broken, another $25 fee will garner a “statement of termination.” According to the city council’s resolution, six months must elapse from the time an individual receives a statement of termination until they can enter another domestic partnership in Ashland.
The concept of a same-sex registry came up quickly and was resolved quickly, the mayor said. A dozen people in favor of same-sex partnerships attended the Sept. 21 council meeting. They submitted a sample resolution and asked council members to consider establishing a registry.
No one at the well-attended meeting spoke out against the resolution, the next day’s issue of the Ashland Daily Tidings newspaper reported.
“The resolution apparently surprised everyone but the people who’d been planning it,” said Stephen Jones, incoming pastor at Calvary Baptist Church, Ashland. He and his family were in the moving process during the two council meetings two weeks apart in which it first came up and then was passed, Jones said.
The resolution was on the docket at the Oct. 5 city council meeting. Two women ministers spoke for the resolution, the mayor said. One was pastor at a United Methodist church; the other at a Unitarian church. A male Christian church pastor and three other men spoke against the measure.
“I think the arguments were fairly predictable on both sides,” Shaw said. “Those for it said it was important for one segment of the population to have more of an official body to recognize their commitment to each other. The others primarily were arguments centered around Christianity and the issue of undermining the institution of marriage by allowing this kind of process.”
Councilman Cameron Hanson, who cast the dissenting vote, said, “It’s not the city’s place to be advocating homosexual unions. It’s not a political issue. It’s a moral issue,” according to the Ashland Daily Tidings.
Describing herself as “a huge believer in marriage as an institution,” Shaw, who has two teenage children, said, “Because I believe in marriage, I understand a little better why this particular segment of society was coming forward. I could understand why some couples who are unable to obtain a marriage license wanted a piece of paper from their local government. We want to do all we can to be in committed relationships, to care for each other.”
Duke, meanwhile, voiced concern “that so few pastors and churches are speaking out on these important issues. If the church is silent, there is no voice for God.”