West Hollywood: First city in the U.S. to Adopt Domestic Partnership Ordinance
The City of West Hollywood has had its fair share of memorable moments over the past several decades. Not the least of which was becoming the first city in the nation to create a memorable legal landmark by passing a domestic partnership ordinance.
It was 1985 and Ordinance No. 22, adopted on February 21, was a bold action considered to be well ahead of its time largely because it was the only way to offer same-sex couples legal recognition. Today, the domestic partnership program offers committed straight and same-sex couples equal opportunities in the eyes of the law.
1985 was also a banner year for the City of West Hollywood in another way. The City worked long and hard to lobby for change to California state law to include domestic partnerships in the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) benefit plans statewide.
Domestic partnerships in California allow two unmarried adults to enter into a legal partnership: a domestic partnership and states that they are one another’s sole partner, completely responsible for the other’s well being. The domestic partnership agreements are not just for couples living in West Hollywood. Anyone may register and many do as they view it as a serious sign of their commitment to one another.
Couples registering as domestic partners have been able to take advantage of the single-minded commitment to equality demonstrated by West Hollywood. Not only did the city give birth to the first domestic partnership registry, pass a resolution in support of marriage equality for straight and same-sex couples inside and outside its city limits, they also expanded their program to give the nod to other partnerships registered in other jurisdictions, and began requiring that franchises, contractors and vendors wanting contracts with the city must provide partnership benefits to their workers.
The California Supreme Court issued a ruling on Proposition 8 that stated barring gay marriages violated the state’s constitution. In June 2008, West Hollywood started issuing marriage licenses and holding civil ceremonies for same-sex couples. In November 2008, issuing marriage license was halted. The question was sent back to the Supreme Court in 2013 in the form of an appeal in Hollingsworth v. Perry. The Court neatly sidestepped the core issue, opening the door for the resumption of same-sex marriages in West Hollywood.
Domestic partnerships have a long and interesting history; a history that gay and straight couples should appreciate when declaring their commitment to one another. Evidently many do appreciate the ability to partake in the benefits of equality in a domestic partnership arrangement, as the 10,000th domestic partnership agreement was registered in West Hollywood in October 2014.
For those wishing more information about domestic partnership agreements in West Hollywood, visit:www.weho.org/domesticpartnerships.
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