Avondale Estates, the home of state Rep. Karla Drenner, the first openly gay state legislator in Georgia, has now established a domestic partnership registry for its residents. The registry extends to lesbian and gay couples as well as opposite-sex couples.
While a domestic partner registry does not offer any legal recognition of a couple's relationship due to Georgia's 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, the registry does add a level of symbolic recognition to couples and their relationships.
The Avondale Estates mayor and board of commissioners approved the resolution on Monday, July 22, to create the domestic partnership registry. Avondale Estates joins Atlanta, Fulton County and Athens-Clarke County in offering domestic partner registries, according to Georgia Equality, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization.
Georgia Equality credited state Rep. Drenner and Avondale Estates Mayor Ed Reiker with getting the resolution passed.
“The City of Avondale Estates is a diverse city,” said Rieker in a prepared statement released by Georgia Equality. “Adding this new service for our residents is a means of showing respect and recognition to the many couples we have living in our city that may want to receive a Domestic Partnership Certificate.”
From an Avondale Estates’ description of the program:
Residents will be able to request a Domestic Partnership Certificate at City Hall during normal business hours and be entered into the new Domestic Partnership Registry. Pursuant to the resolution the couple will then be issued a Certificate of Domestic Partnership signed by the mayor. This Certificate may make it easier for couples to show evidence to receive healthcare benefits, gain hospital visitation rights and access to other rights afforded to married couples.
According to the Williams Institute, Avondale Estates has the highest concentration of same-sex couples in the state.
From Georgia Equality:
Same-sex couples in the state face significant barriers to accessing state and federal benefits due to an amendment to Georgia’s constitution—passed in 2004—that bans both same-sex marriages and civil unions, but domestic partnership registries have become an important way municipalities in Georgia can show support for their gay and lesbian citizens.
Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, attended Monday’s meeting. He posted to his Facebook page today announcing the news this statement: “I was in attendance at last night’s meeting. What moved me the most was seeing the enthusiasm of the mayor and the city commissioners in passing this resolution. It may be a small step but yet another municipality goes on record to support our families.”