Essentially, Columbia, MO now
recognizes same sex domestic partnerships as equivalent to heterosexual marriage. The measure passed the city council unanimously. More later.
UPDATE: OK, I got that wrong. Per this editorial in favor of the measure, it sets up a registry where same sex couples could put their commitment on the record, and companies could choose to recognize their relationship as they see fit. On the scale of marriage equality, it’s below civil unions and far short of marriage, but better than the status quo. And I’m not sure how much better it could be, considering that the state constitution explicitly only recognizes marriage as an institution between a man and a woman. Still, cause for rejoicing.
UPDATE II: I just talked to AJ Bockelman, the executive director of PROMO. He was very excited about the decision, and stressed that it was the culmination of months of work. He saw the passage of the registry as another sign that Columbia, MO is an open, welcoming, and diverse city.
When I asked him what he meant by “the culmination of months of work” he said that they helped craft the ordinance, met with city council members to discuss the various aspects and impact of it, and worked with local members to get support. He was overjoyed that it passed unanimously.
When I asked him to describe the ordinance in more detail, Bockelman explained that it set up a registry where any couple (gay or straight) could register their commitment and at least have a document to show that they are family to each other. For instance, a couple could now provide documentation for visitation rights at the hospital, or for health insurance for partners at work. He explained that this is still a far cry from marriage equality, that it’s as close to marriage equality as a single lightbulb is to the electrical system of the University of Missouri, but it’s still a positive step forward.