Shoreview, a suburb north of St. Paul, became the thirteenth municipality in Minnesota to pass a domestic partner registry on Monday night.
The ordinance passed by a vote of 3-2, against a charged political backdrop brought about by the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage that will be on the ballot in 2012.
Shoreview’s approval of the registry adds the city to a growing list of municipalities that have created domestic partner registries: Minneapolis, Duluth, St. Paul, Edina, Golden Valley, Rochester, Maplewood, Richfield, St. Louis Park, Robbinsdale and Falcon Heights.
The registries carry little legal weight since the state currently bans local municipalities from offering domestic partner benefits to their employees, but same-sex couples living in these cities can take advantage of city services, such as memberships, as a married couple would. The registry can also be used as proof of relationship status to private employers that offer domestic partner benefits.
One council member who voted against the measure said it went against his faith and he was concerned it would get drawn into the debate over same-sex marriage.
“To me this is all about, on either side of the issue, toward the gay marriage fight, which I know this is not it. It is not the gay marriage battle. But it’s going to be tough for this to be separate from the whole gay marriage battle,” Shoreview Council Member Blake Huffman said according to the Shoreview Post. “My faith is not consistent with this motion, so I wouldn’t support this.”
Another council member who voted against it was concerned about “advocacy.”
“Had our commission been interviewed by the Minnesota Family Council I think our recommendations would have been a little different, so the advocacy thing concerns me a little,” said Council Member Terry Quigley.
Ultimately, the council sided with same-sex couples.
“I don’t think you can love and accept people if you discriminate against them,” said Council Member Ben Withhart. ”And I think by not passing this ordinance we’re essentially saying we don’t accept you folks and we don’t want you in our community and I think that is the wrong statement for us to make”