West Hollywood, which in 1985 created the nation’s first domestic partnership registry, announced today that it has registered its 10,000th partnership.
West Hollywood residents Kevin Carter and Ali Babu Che Johnson arrived at City Hall this morning to register as domestic partners and found themselves covered in confetti as city employees celebrated their union.
In 1985, the domestic partnership registry was an initiative of then-Mayor Valerie Terrigno in an era where same-sex marriage not only wasn’t yet legal but wasn’t even on the political agenda. Terrigno proposed that the city create a way for two individuals who live together and share a common domestic life to register their relationship so they could have jail and hospital visitation rights and eventually, if they were city employees, share insurance coverage. After the partnership registry was established, the city struggled to find an insurance carrier who would provide coverage to partners of city employees.
“When we started the domestic partnership program in 1985 it was the only way for same-sex couples to get any legal recognition,” said Councilmember John Heilman, who was on the Council then and was a supporter of the 1985 initiative. “It is so exciting that we have been able to give a variety of committed couples the opportunity to have their relationships officially validated.”
The city’s domestic partnership program grants two non-married adults the ability to declare themselves domestic partners if they are each other’s sole partner and responsible for each other’s welfare. Couples do not have to be residents of West Hollywood to register; many couples who file do so because it provides an opportunity to be counted and make a documented public commitment. A West Hollywood domestic partnership may be used by other agencies that recognize such arrangements. In addition to visitation rights in health care facilities and jails, domestic partners who live in West Hollywood are eligible for certain benefits under the City’s rent stabilization ordinance.
West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico registered as a domestic partner with Keith Rand in 1992.
“The impulse that invented these domestic partnerships in 1985 has turned into the marriage equality movement that is sweeping the nation today,” D’Amico said. “Love continues to conquer all; what a terrific milestone. Keith and I have certificate number 425 signed by the West Hollywood City Clerk in October 1992, and it is as treasured as our marriage license from 2008.”
“West Hollywood was the first city in the nation to create a domestic partnership registry. This was done at a time during the depths of the AIDS crisis as a way to recognize our relationships and prevent injustice,” said Councilmember John Duran. “Back then, the option of marriage seemed like fantasy. But the domestic partnership idea was the foundation to build a legal/political argument in support of marriage equality in the courts and legislature.”
In 1996, the City Council extended the domestic partnership program to recognize those registered in other jurisdictions. In 2003, West Hollywood enacted an ordinance requiring contractors, vendors, and franchises to provide domestic partnership benefits to their employees as a condition of entering a contract with the city.
Last year, when a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a state court decision permitting same-sex marriages in California, West Hollywood launched a marriage celebration. West Hollywood City Council members and city officials performed hundreds of civil ceremonies at West Hollywood City Council Chambers.
The city issues, processes, and files domestic partnership registrations at West Hollywood City Hall at the City Clerk’s office. There is a $25 fee for filing a domestic partner registration. More information, including a domestic partnership application, is available online.