City Celebrates as 10,000th Domestic Partnership is Registered
The City of West Hollywood marked an exciting milestone this morning as the City Clerk’s office at West Hollywood City Hall filed its 10,000th couple as registered Domestic Partners.
West Hollywood residents Kevin Carter and Ali Babu Che Johnson arrived at West Hollywood City Hall this morning to file as Domestic Partners. The Office of the City Clerk informed them that they were the 10,000th couple to file for a Domestic Partnership in the City and it was all smiles and happy tears as a confetti-filled celebration ensued in the City Hall lobby.
The City of West Hollywood was the first city in the nation to adopt a Domestic Partnership ordinance. The Domestic Partnership Program in West Hollywood grants two non-married adults the ability to declare a Domestic Partnership 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 or entities that recognize such arrangements. Domestic Partners who do reside in West Hollywood gain certain rights and responsibilities, such as visitation rights in health care facilities and jails, as well as benefits under the City’s Rent Stabilization ordinance.
“The impulse that invented these domestic partnerships in 1985 has turned into the marriage equality movement that is sweeping the nation today. Love continues to conquer all; what a terrific milestone,” said West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico. “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.”
“When we started the domestic partnership program in 1985 it was the only way for same-sex couples to get any legal recognition,” said Mayor Pro Tem John Heilman. “It is so exciting that we have been able to give a variety of committed couples the opportunity to have their relationships officially validated.”
“This celebration of the 10,000th Domestic Partnership certificate is another example of how far we’ve come and West Hollywood is leading the way,” said Councilmember Jeff Prang. “I personally want to congratulate you two for a lifelong commitment that I took back in March 2004. I have found my partnership to be the best thing I have ever done. Enjoy! This is your day!”
Just weeks after incorporating as a municipality in late 1984, the West Hollywood City Council unanimously adopted the City’s Domestic Partnership ordinance, Ordinance No. 22, on February 21, 1985. Later that year, the City successfully lobbied to change California state law so that the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) included Domestic Partners in benefit plans statewide.
On May 20, 1996, the West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously to adopt Ordinance No. 466 to extend the City’s Domestic Partnership program to recognize Domestic Partnerships registered in other jurisdictions, thus providing all Domestic Partners the same rights as couples who became Domestic Partners in West Hollywood. In 2003, West Hollywood enacted an ordinance requiring contractors, vendors, and franchises to provide Domestic Partnership benefits to their employees as a condition of contracts with the City.
“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 J. 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.”
“The City of West Hollywood’s domestic partnership registry set a national precedent about the importance of recognizing the lifelong commitments that couples made to each other regardless of sexuality,” said Councilmember Abbe Land. “In a time where marriage equality is becoming legal across the country, it is important to celebrate the 10,000th domestic partnership registry by recognizing its historical significance and the role it had in shaping our country’s current marriage landscape.”
Domestic Partnership helped to pave the way for progress in marriage equality. The City of West Hollywood was one of the first cities in the country to pass a resolution in support of marriage equality. The City has been one of the most ardent and vocal advocates for the legal rights of same-sex couples and the right to marry, both in and outside its City boundaries. Since 1995, the City Council has passed almost a dozen resolutions supporting progressive domestic rights initiatives, and condemning the opposite, in various states and on the federal level. In 2004, the West Hollywood City Council passed a resolution supporting San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s direction to the City and County of San Francisco, Office of the County Clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The City of West Hollywood, later that year, declared its vocal opposition to a proposed federal Constitutional Amendment, which would have served to ban same-sex marriages.
In a monumental moment in U.S. history, the City of West Hollywood in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Register-Recorder Clerk began to issue marriage licenses and perform civil ceremonies for same-sex couples in June 2008, following the Supreme Court of California ruling on Proposition 8, which found that barring same-sex couples from marriage violated the state’s constitution. The issuance of marriage licenses was halted on November 5, 2008. On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed an appeal in Hollingsworth v. Perry on jurisdictional grounds, ruling that private parties do not have standing to defend California’s Proposition 8 ballot measure prohibiting gay and lesbian couples from marrying. In refusing to directly decide the case, the Court cleared the way for marriages to resume in the state. On July 1, 2013, the City of West Hollywood launched a marriage celebration. West Hollywood City Councilmembers and City Officials performed hundreds of civil ceremonies at West Hollywood City Council Chambers, located at the West Hollywood Library.
The City of West Hollywood issues, processes, and files Domestic Partnership registrations at West Hollywood City Hall in the Office of the City Clerk. There is a $25 fee for filing a Domestic Partner registration. For more information, including FAQs, a copy of the ordinance, and a Domestic Partnership application, please visit www.weho.org/domesticpartnerships.
For additional information, please call Lisa Marie Belsanti at (323) 848-6378. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.