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Proposed Mesa Medical Registry Draws Ire

September 11, 2009

MESA, AZ - A pair of national Christian groups based in the East Valley has launched an e-mail campaign urging the City of Mesa to drop consideration of a domestic partner registry. The proposal by councilman Dennis Kavanaugh would ensure that unmarried couples, both same-sex and opposite sex, would be able to visit their sick or injured partners in the hospital. The idea is being studied by Mesa's human relations advisory board.

Barbara McCullough-Jones, of Equality Arizona, hopes the board resists pressure to abandon the issue.

"Let democracy happen in Mesa. Let the process move forward and then let's see where the votes are, if the human relations board even moves forward with any kind of formal proposal for the city council."

One Mesa minister says he's against a domestic partner registry because it could give the impression the city condones same-sex marriage or unmarried couples living together. Phoenix and Tucson have already established such registries.

McCullough-Jones says, beyond medical visitation, the registry could be used to demonstrate a committed domestic partnership to the increasing number of employers who offer benefits to unmarried couples.

"It's actually of great benefit to companies, and as Arizona attracts more and more progressive companies. That's the kind of environment and the workforce that they're looking for."

Some opponents say a domestic partner registry is unnecessary because the same legal protections are available through private contracts and the power of attorney. McCullough-Jones argues that means jumping through a lot of expensive legal hoops.

"I think it places an unfair legal burden on unmarried people because we have to pay an inordinate amount of money to go to those lawyers and get those contracts drawn up."

Because of fees charged by cities, supporters say the registries elsewhere have been shown to pay for themselves. The two Christian groups opposing the registry are United Families International and Family Watch International.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ