City of Somerville
Massachusetts

Agenda Item
210003
Work Completed
Jun 25, 2020 7:00 PM

That the City Solicitor draft an ordinance formally recognizing domestic partnerships.

Information

Department:City CouncilSponsors:Ward One City Councilor Matthew McLaughlin, Ward Four City Councilor Jesse Clingan, Ward Six City Councilor Lance L. Davis, Ward Seven City Councilor Katjana Ballantyne, Ward Five City Councilor Mark Niedergang, Ward Two City Councilor Jefferson Thomas ("J.T.") Scott, City Councilor At Large William A. White Jr., Ward Three City Councilor Ben Ewen-Campen, City Councilor At Large Mary Jo Rossetti, City Councilor At Large Stephanie Hirsch, City Councilor At Large Wilfred N. Mbah, City Councilor at Large Kristen Strezo
Category:OrderPurposes:Order

Official Text

That the City Solicitor draft an ordinance formally recognizing domestic partnerships.

 

Meeting History

Apr 7, 2020 7:00 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting

Councilor McLaughlin learned from a constituent that the City doesn't acknowledge domestic partnerships. He said this problem is Coronavirus-related because it can prevent an individual from being added to their partner's health insurance. He noted that both Cambridge and Boston recognize domestic partnerships. Councilor Ballantyne asked about the legality of domestic partnerships, and City Clerk John Long responded the public should consult an attorney to learn more, and that domestic partnerships are not recognized by the State or Federal Government but are recognized by some private companies for health insurance. Councilor Scott said that without the recognition of a domestic partnership, many legal processes can be difficult, such as estate planning and health coverage.

RESULT:APPROVED. [UNANIMOUS]
AYES:Stephanie Hirsch, Wilfred N. Mbah, Mary Jo Rossetti, William A. White Jr., Matthew McLaughlin, Jefferson Thomas ("J.T.") Scott, Ben Ewen-Campen, Jesse Clingan, Mark Niedergang, Lance L. Davis, Katjana Ballantyne
May 21, 2020 6:00 PM Video Legislative Matters Committee Committee Meeting

Ms. Pappenheim told the members that this is something that can be accomplished and she asked whether the committee is looking for a symbolic separation or something from city clerk's office, e.g., a certificate acknowledging the partnership. Councilor McLaughlin explained how this arose and said he's looking for something that recognizes domestic partnerships, therefore allowing people to secure benefits, etc. The cities of Boston and Cambridge already have this, but Somerville does not recognize domestic partnerships. Ms. Pappenheim will work on creating an ordinance and should have it done for the June 4th committee meeting.

RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE
Jun 4, 2020 6:00 PM Video Legislative Matters Committee Committee Meeting
draft Draft

Ms. Pappenheim presented a draft version of the proposed ordinance. The ordinance recognizes domestic partnerships and allows couples to obtain a certificate from the City Clerk recognizing their partnerships. For the city's purposes, the domestic partnerships are treated the same as marriages, with respect to fees, etc., and grants the same rights and privileges as those afforded to married individuals. The draft is based on ordinances from Cambridge and Boston, but is much simpler and narrower in scope. Ms. Pappenheim asked for placement suggestions from the committee, since Cambridge placed their ordinance under personnel and another community placed it under the Health Department. There were questions regarding the requirement to amend the partnership registration if there is a change of household address and Ms. Pappenheim explained that it is because the couple “resides together”. Councilor Niedergang asked about a few of the definitions and Ms. Papenheim provided explanations.

Chair Davis stated is desire to have the draft posted on MinuteTraq for the public to see. This item will be on the agenda for the June 18th committee meeting.

RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE
Jun 18, 2020 6:00 PM Video Legislative Matters Committee Committee Meeting
draft Draft

Chair Davis noted that the previous discussion raised concerns about the requirement that the registrants of a domestic partnership must amend the registration if their address changes. He clarified that the domestic partnership would be terminated if the participants no longer lived together, and suggested removing the language regarding change of address.

The Chair moved to amend the ordinance by striking paragraph B of the Registration and Termination section and re-numbering the subsequent paragraphs (and making corresponding changes referring to that paragraph).

The motion was approved on a roll call vote of 4 members in favor (Clingan, Ewen-Campen, Niedergang, Davis), none against and 1 absent (McLaughlin).

The Chair moved to approve the ordinance as amended.

The motion was approved on a roll call vote of 4 members in favor (Clingan, Ewen-Campen, Niedergang, Davis), none against and 1 absent (McLaughlin).

This item was before the committee for discussion, therefore, the Law Department will submit the ordinance under a new item number to the City Council for action.

RESULT:WORK COMPLETED
Jun 25, 2020 7:00 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting
draft Draft

For ordainment of this item see #210361.

RESULT:WORK COMPLETED