The DC City Council Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary today marks up the bill authorizing same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia. I'm happy to report that Committee Chair Phil Mendelson is recommending preservation of domestic partnership. The draft of the Committee Report on the subject says as follows:
Domestic partnerships have been and remain available to opposite-sex couples. In addition, two people not romantically involved, such as relatives, can register as domestic partners for such purposes as sharing benefits. While the vast majority of registered domestic partners in the District are same-sex couples, and while it is possible, given the opportunity, that these couples will choose marriage over domestic partnerships, there is value in continuing the availability of domestic partnerships in the law as an alternative to marriage.
The report says that now is not the time to reconsider domestic partnership availability, and this legislation is not the place to do it. This section of the report concludes as follows:
The ability to register domestic partnerships in the District remains important. It allows those who do not wish to marry or are unable to marry to provide legal protection to their relationship. As domestic partnerships apply equally to same-sex and opposite-sex couples, the Committee believes that preserving the right to register at the same time the District is recognizing the ability of same-sex couples to marry does not dilute the statement made by this legislation that same-sex couples are equal to opposite-sex couples.
I'm happy to say that the report also explicitly cites to my testimony for an additional reason to preserve domestic partnership. I noted that DC law requires numerous registered relationships from elsewhere to be treated as domestic partnerships in DC. If we eliminate new domestic partnerships in DC, then the city will have to recognize two people who register elsewhere as domestic partners but may not allow those same two people to become domestic partners in DC.
Articles in both the Washington Post and the Washington Blade cover this and other provisions in the bill emerging from mark up. As of now the draft of the Committee Report is not online. It should be available by calling the committee at 202-724-7808. Eventually, all the documents related to the bill will be available on the City Council website by searching for B18-482 in the Council's LIMS system.