Partnership Law Takes Effect

City Will Extend Legal Benefits of Marriage to More People

Cantabrigians who register as domestic partners will receive legal protection similar to that provided by marriage under the Domestic Partnership Ordinance which takes effect today.

The ordinance, introduced by City Councillor Alice K. Wolf last July, assures visitation rights for partners at city health and correctional facilities and access to the school records of the partner's children.

Registered city employees will also be eligible for benefits that include medical insurance coverage, sick leave, parental leave and bereavement leave.

Wolf said yesterday that the ordinance, which was passed in mid-September, originated from concern expressed in the gay community.

"I believe this gives a measure of equity to people in committed relationships," she said. "This is a way of supporting family values in a less traditional manner."


Wolf said, however, that most of the registered partnerships in other cities have been heterosexual couples.

"I think [the ordinance] is a clear indication that there is support for bisexual, gay and lesbian couples," said John A. Frazier '95, co-chair of Harvard's Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian Student Association. "It is to be commended."

Persons registered as domestic partners are entitled to the same visitation rights to city hospitals and prisons as a spouse or parent of the patient or prisoner.

In addition, parents or legal guardians can arrange for the partner to have access to their child's records and teachers. Partners also can be given permission to remove the child from school for sickness or family emergency.

In the area of medical insurance, city employees may extend their coverage to include their domestic partners. But given the potential tax complications, they may also choose not to do so.

All registered domestic partners are also eligible for sick leave, parental leave and bereavement leave.

According to the ordinance, a couple mustreside together in a relationship of mutualsupport, caring and commitment, be at least 18years of age and consider themselves a family inorder to register as a domestic partnership.

Domestic partners must file a domestic partnerregistration form at the City Clerk's Office inCity Hall, which they must sign under oath. Theregistration then becomes a public record, muchlike a marriage record.

Seventeen other U.S. cities, including Berkeleyand San Francisco, have already adopted similardomestic partnership ordinances