SALT LAKE CITY — Drawing from an ordinance passed in Salt Lake City in 2008, Salt Lake County leaders are considering the creation of a countywide registry for unmarried committed couples.
The proposal, submitted by County Council members Arlyn Bradshaw and Randy Horiuchi, would allow residents of Salt Lake County to register their relationships — including same-gender partnerships — with the county and receive a certificate attesting to their relationship status.
The registry would not be legally binding but would serve as official recognition for employers or government agencies that voluntarily extend health care and other benefits to members of committed relationships.
Salt Lake City leaders formed a similar registry in April 2008. To date, 86 couples are registered with the city, according to the Salt Lake City Recorder's Office.
The proposal is on the agenda for Salt Lake County Council meeting at 11 a.m. Tuesday.
"A mutual commitment registry will create a way to recognize relationships of mutual commitment, support and caring, where the parties to the relationship participate to support the financial and physical welfare of each other and intend to continue in this manner," the proposal states.
Bradshaw said the registry would further emphasize the county's support for all families.
"For a significant amount of us, that family looks a little different than I guess what you would call traditional," he said. "I think it’s important that as a government and as a community, we recognize those different structures and relationships."
The county already offers a number of benefits to the partners of employees, such as family discounts at recreation centers, Bradshaw said. The certificate received by declared couples would be all the documentation an individual would need to receive those benefits, he said.
Under the proposal, the two individuals in a partnership must be at least 18 years old and unmarried according to Utah state law to register. They must freely declare they are mutually committed to each other and be able to provide documentation that they share a common financial obligation, such as a mortgage, lease or vehicle ownership. They also must share a primary residence in Salt Lake County and execute a declaration of mutual commitment.
Bradshaw said he has been looking into extending the registry countywide since running for the council in 2010. He said the county clerk's office often receives requests from residents wishing to file a declaration of mutual commitment, but because the registry is limited to Salt Lake City, they are unable to do so.
"What this will do is make the same service available, but through the county clerk’s office, so any resident of Salt Lake County would have access to it," he said.
Bradshaw said the proposal will be read for the first time at Tuesday's meeting, with a decision likely coming next month. He said many concerns were addressed during the creation of Salt Lake City's registry in 2008, and as a result of that dialogue, he does not anticipate opposition.
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