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Salt Lake City Mayor Becker christens partner registry
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Social conservatives on Capitol Hill gave Salt Lake City one command: Rename your domestic-partnership registry so it does not sound like marriage.

On Tuesday, Mayor Ralph Becker settled on "mutual-commitment registry," which has the blessing, he said, of both the legislative sponsor and the city attorney.

"This complies with state law," Becker said, "and really allows us to move forward with what we intended, which is to provide benefits in a nondiscriminatory way."

But Councilman Eric Jergensen, who will help decide the name's fate, is not sold on the new title.

"The idea behind it was to create a mechanism for employers to provide health care benefits to city residents," he said Tuesday. "I don't know if the new name works."

Jergensen says the name may need to refer to financial interdependence - one of the tenets outlined under SB299.

On the 2008 Legislature's final day, lawmakers passed the compromise measure that allows cities and counties to adopt a voluntary index so long as it is not called a "domestic partnership" registry. Some legislators worried the term could be interpreted as akin to gay marriage - outlawed in voter-approved Amendment 3.

The City Council - which unanimously adopted the registry earlier this year, fulfilling a Becker campaign promise - may consider the name change as early as April 1.

Mike Thompson, executive director of Equality Utah, says the alternative title is fine but beside the point.

"What is most important is they are choosing to recognize all relationships within the city," he said.

SB299, signed by Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., became more about semantics than substance. Initially, Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, sought to quash the registry. A substitute version required only a name change as well as a pledge not to create marriage look-alikes.

Becker is pleased the index will remain "substantively the same" as the domestic-partnership registry, which he maintains will save businesses time and money.

"No matter what we call it, the mutual-commitment registry will create a way for Salt Lake City to recognize relationships of mutual support, caring and commitment."

Maintained by the City Recorder's Office, the registry will serve as a catalog of adult residents - gay or otherwise - who can add their names as long as they provide proof that they cohabit and rely on one another as dependents.

The list will serve as a resource for businesses when determining whether to issue insurance benefits.

djensen@sltrib.com

What is the registry?

* An index that would serve as a catalog of city residents, same-sex couples or otherwise, who can add their names as long as they provide proof that they cohabit and rely on one another as dependents.

* The voluntary registry, which could become operational next month, would serve as a resource for businesses when determining whether to issue insurance benefits.

But the new name is not official and may still face some obstacles
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