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Salt Lake County Council passes ordinance creating mutual commitment registry

The registry can help individuals in nontraditional relationship obtain access to his or her partner’s benefits — including family passes to county recreation centers.
The registry can help individuals in nontraditional relationship obtain access to his or her partner’s benefits — including family passes to county recreation centers.
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SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake County Council voted Tuesday to establish a mutual commitment registry.

Under the ordinance, approved by an 8-1 vote, the Salt Lake County Clerk creates a registry for “adult relationships of financial dependence or interdependence. Councilman Arlyn Bradshaw, co-sponsor of the ordinance, said the registry should be available to the public within a short period of time.

The registry can help individuals in nontraditional relationship obtain access to his or her partner’s benefits — including family passes to county recreation centers.

Bradshaw said, in supporting the ordinance, “the council just said we support all families that are committed to one another.’’

Current state law and the Utah Constitution limit marriage to unions of one man and one woman. The ordinance, Bradshaw said, “is as far as we can go as a local government.”

Bradshaw, who is gay, said he supports “full marriage equality. This is not a substitute for that.”

The Salt Lake City Council passed a similar ordinance in 2008. Since then, many people who are not city residents have expressed interest in the county also creating a registry, Bradshaw said.

County Council Chairman Steve DeBry voted against the ordinance, describing it as “a slippery slope” to the legalization of same-sex marriage.

"I do not support nor do I advocate for gay marriage," he said. “Traditional marriage has supported societies and served us well for thousands of years.”

The ordinance goes into effect 15 days after its passage. The filing fee for the registry is $40.

Partners who dissolve a mutual commitment must give notice to the county. The ordinance prohibits a party who ends a registered mutual commitment from entering another one for six months. This does not apply if the commitment ended because one of the partners has died, however.

To register, residents of Salt Lake County must be at least 18 years old, unmarried and share a primary residence.

The parties must be competent to enter contracts and "be directly dependent upon, or interdependent with, each other sharing a common financial obligation" such as a mortgage, a life insurance policy, a mutually granted power of attorney for health care or financial management, or proof that one partner is authorized to sign for purposes of a bank or credit account.

Email: marjorie@deseretnews.com