Support for domestic partner registry sags in Inver Grove Heights

  • Article by: LAURIE BLAKE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 17, 2011 - 10:40 AM

The Inver Grove Heights City Council seems unlikely to adopt a domestic partners registry.

Inver Grove Heights may not be ready for a domestic partners registry after all.

After hearing from a few residents who favored a City Hall registry for unmarried but committed couples living together, council members considered but now look unlikely to pass a domestic partnership ordinance.

Thirteen cities have passed such ordinances to give gay couples the chance to document their relationships. Outfront Minnesota, a gay advocacy group, distributed materials in support of the ordinance at the Inver Grove Heights City Council meeting Oct. 10.

It was soon clear that only Council Member Rosemary Piekarski Krech supported the proposal, but in the absence of Member Bill Klein, the council opted to postpone a vote until Oct. 24, when all five council members are expected to be present.

Piekarski Krech said she is open to a domestic partners registry as a way to give unmarried Inver Grove Heights couples a way to recognize their committed status. "When it was first brought to me I didn't view it as a gay issue. I didn't realize it was such a controversial issue," she said.

"There are a number of people that I know who for various reasons won't get married," she said. A lot of older couples don't want to marry for fear of losing a pension they received through their former spouse or because they had a bad experience with their first marriage, she said.

A city registry would give them a way to declare before a public body that they are committed, Piekarski Krech said.

Council Members Vance Grannis III and Dennis Madden indicated opposition to a city domestic partner registry.

Mayor George Tourville said he had received e-mail and phone calls in opposition to a registry from residents who argued that it had nothing to do with the function of city government.

Ted Trenzeluk of Inver Grove Heights spoke in opposition to the proposal. "It's legally irrelevant. It achieves nothing for anyone."

He charged that such ordinances are an attempt by gay activists to marshall support for same-sex marriage. "The city should not be used by anyone's agenda," Trenzeluk said.

He asked the council to kill the proposed ordinance. Otherwise, he said he would "call every pastor in Inver Grove Heights" to inform them of the issue.

One woman urged the council to go ahead with the registry, saying "it's not about gay rights," but about helping people get medical coverage.

Tourville said he looked into the effect that a municipal couples registry would have on medical insurance coverage and found that if the insurance carrier does not offer coverage to a partner, a city registry would not change that.

If it doesn't affect medical coverage, Tourville said, "Why do it?"

The issue will come before the City Council on Oct. 24 unless one of the council members will be absent, said Assistant City Administrator Jenelle Teppen.

Laurie Blake • 952-746-3287

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