Mesa domestic partner registry opposed - East Valley Tribune: News

Mesa domestic partner registry opposed

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Posted: Sunday, September 6, 2009 9:03 pm | Updated: 1:24 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

An initiative in Mesa to craft a domestic partner registry has come under fire from residents and a national Christian group galvanized against it.

An initiative in Mesa to craft a domestic partner registry has come under fire from residents and a national Christian group galvanized against it.

The registry was proposed months ago by Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh and referred to the Human Relations Advisory Board.

Kavanaugh first mentioned his support for the registry in early 2009, pointing to Phoenix's adoption of a registry for use by unmarried couples, both straight and gay. The registry would ensure visitation rights at medical facilities for domestic partners.

Tucson adopted a registry in 2003. Salt Lake City unanimously adopted a registry ordinance in 2008.

For months, the city's advisory board has been considering a registry for Mesa.

E-mails lambasting the city's registry idea have come in starting in late August, and Kavanaugh said he believed it was tied to a large religious group mounting organized opposition.

Family Watch International, which has a mailing address in Gilbert, bills itself as a nonprofit, international organization with members and supporters in over 80 countries.

A call to the organization's office Friday for comment was not returned.

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Kavanaugh said that he was told the reason all of the e-mails came in about the same time was because of the religious organization.

In an e-mail released by Family Watch International dated Aug. 25, the group writes the heading: "Mesa Considering Domestic Partner Registry."

The first line in the letter begins: "If you live in Mesa, or know someone who lives in Mesa, please take a few minutes to help stop a 'domestic partner registry' ordinance that the city is quietly trying to enact."

Kavanaugh said many of the e-mails he received voicing opposition came on or shortly after the date of the religious organization's mass e-mail.

Mesa resident Zona Savage wrote Kavanaugh simply expressing her opposition: "This better not go through."

Resident Daniel Grimm wrote the mayor and council members informing them that he felt there was another way to extend benefits other than a registry.

"There are existing legal options for domestic partners to pursue that grant them visitation, power of attorney, power over health decisions," he wrote in an e-mail dated Aug. 25. "Domestic partner advocates should instead work to educate their constituency as to the available legal services that will protect their right to visitation without requiring the city to become involved."

Mesa resident Jim Klein wrote in a letter to the mayor, "My wife and I are opposed to any such ordinance on moral, religious and legal grounds."

Klein said while he and his wife, Karen, respected individual rights and responsibilities, "Same-sex relationships go beyond traditional and time-tested moral, religious and legal rights regarding families."

While most of the e-mail messages carried the same, unchanging tenor, a few carried a different perspective.

One e-mail, from a man who identified himself as Mesa resident David Smart, said he was in support of the registry as long as it did not mean marriage rights.

"I can support a domestic registry in that the right of people who are not married can be given the same consideration as those who are married," Smart wrote city officials. "What I cannot support is where this leads into another issue revolving around 'Gay Marriage Rights' and attacks the definition of marriage between a man and a woman."

Smart's e-mail came on the same day as dozens of other e-mails opposing the registry.

That day was Aug. 25, the same day listed at the top of the letter from the international Christian group.

In light of the flurry of opposition, Kavanaugh said the registry issue would likely be discussed at the next meeting of the Human Relations Advisory Board at 6 p.m. Sept. 23 in City Council Chambers, 57 E. First Street.

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