Opponents don’t derail domestic registry

Opposition from a pair of the city’s religious leaders was not enough to change the minds of city commissioners who have supported creating the state’s first domestic partnership registry.

Commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting heard a bevy of faith-based concerns about a new registry that would allow same-sex couples to receive some legal recognition of their partnerships by registering with the city.

“I know this city prides itself in tolerance, but sometimes we can be so politically correct that we become spiritually wrong,” said the Rev. William Dulin.

Commissioners had approved the registry two weeks ago on a 4-1 vote after about two hours of public comment. The registry was back on the agenda Tuesday for its first reading, which normally is nothing more than a technicality that commissioners must go through before an ordinance can become a law.

The Rev. Leo Barbee Jr. also urged commissioners to change course, and told them that he believed the ordinance was the first step by a gay and lesbian community to promote a “pro-gay agenda” at City Hall.

“It would be best to stop it now,” Barbee said.

Approximately a half-dozen other speakers urged commissioners to change their previous vote. Most spoke against the ordinance based on faith-based concerns, saying it went against the spirit of the state’s constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage.

About five speakers urged commissioners to continue to support the registry.

“It is not a business’ job or the city government’s job to determine who has sinned,” Natalya Lowther said. “That is God’s job.”

None of the commissioners changed their previous vote. Commissioner Mike Amyx was the lone commissioner to vote against the ordinance.

“To me, this is about freedom,” City Commissioner Boog Highberger said. “This is a freedom that does not impose on anybody else’s freedom. I strongly support it, regardless of whether it is the most popular thing to do.”

The registry, which also is open to heterosexual couples who choose not to marry, would not grant the same legal rights to domestic partners that married couples have.

The registry would provide legal documentation that could be used by individuals to help secure health insurance for their domestic partner. That has been the main selling point supporters of the registry have offered to commissioners.

The city expects to have the registry ready Aug. 1. A fee to register has not yet been set. The city manager will set that fee after he determines how much it will cost the city to administer the program. Typically, fees in other communities have ranged from $20 to $50.