Cities welcome same-sex couples
In June, New York became the largest state to legalize gay marriage, and New York City officials expect the move to bring new business to the city and state. And, in states that still ban the unions, some cities are setting up domestic partnership registries, a way to recognize same-sex and domestic partnerships and grant a few rights.
On July 24, 823 same-sex couples showed up at New York City Hall to get married, more than the 764 spots allotted. The city announced on July 21 that all 823 couples would be able to wed on July 24, surpassing the city’s previous single-day record of 621 marriages performed on Valentine’s Day 2003. The weddings were expected to be a boost for the city’s florists, caterers, venues, ring shops and wedding photographers, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office.
While New York joins a growing list of states that allow same-sex marriage, such as Massachusetts and Connecticut, or civil unions, including Delaware and Hawaii, many states still prohibit the practice, leading some cities to establish domestic partnership registries. University City, Mo., launched a registry on June 1 that defines a “domestic partnership” as a relationship between two adults who consider themselves to be members of each other’s immediate family, share a common residence and affirm that they share responsibility for each other’s common welfare. So far, 10 couples have registered, receiving benefits such as discounted rates to city facilities like swimming pools and community centers. “This is to ensure that all our residents are treated equally and fairly,” Mayor Shelley Welsch says.
Orlando, Fla., officials are considering a registry that would grant same-sex couples four specific rights: hospital visitation, jail visitation, estate planning and end-of-life decision-making. “It’s a matter of equal treatment and fairness,” says Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “We ought to be tolerant and open.”
Who says ‘I do?’
Along with New York, other states that allow same-sex marriage include Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Rhode Island, New York and Maryland recognize same-sex marriages from other states, and Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois and New Jersey allow civil unions. However, more than half of states have passed Defense of Marriage Acts that define marriage as being between a man and a woman, according to NCSL.
Allison Reilly is a St. Louis, Mo.-based freelance writer.