The Salt Lake County Council voted 7-0 for preliminary approval of a mutual commitment registry for unmarried committed couples Tuesday. If passed, the registry would provide a government-issued certification of a relationship as well as some benefits through the county. The ordinance notes the registry can be used by same-sex couples as well as adult familial relationships and committed friendships.
"I think that in general, Salt Lake City, Utah, is a very family friendly environment," said Arlyn Bradshaw, the council member who sponsored the registry. Bradshaw said he hopes the ordinance would "strengthen family units even further." The Salt Lake City metro area was recently named the top metro area for percentage of same-sex couples raising children.
County employees would be able to use the registry for benefits. Non-employees could use it to receive discounts at county facilities like recreation centers. To be eligible for the registry, couples must provide documentation of commitment. Documentation could include a joint loan obligation, mortgage, joint ownership of a vehicle or a mutually granted power of attorney. There is a $40 fee.
"Salt Lake County's proposed "mutual commitment" registry is a small, and important step towards the inclusion of LGBT families and other interdependent couples without a legally recognized relationship in accessing the benefits that Salt Lake County offers," Brandie Balken, executive director of Equality Utah, said in an email.
The city of Salt Lake City already has a similar registry. Both Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County also have non-discrimination housing and employment ordinances. The ordinance is expected to go up for a final vote on June 4.