Domestic partners in the city of Athens can now declare their partnership in a newly formed domestic partner registry.

This week, Athens City Council approved the creation of a domestic partner registry, which will allow those living in the same household — heterosexual or homosexual — to declare their partnership.

According to Councilman Jim Sands, partners can register at the mayor’s office at City Hall for $25. Registration would be notarized.

“It would not, at this point, offer any legal options for signers of this partnership agreement,” Sands said.

Sands said the measure is more “symbolic” than anything at this time. He said domestic partners would not accrue any particular benefits from registering, but could in the future if state law allows. He said future benefits could include insurance, end of life benefits and being able to have access to their partner during hospital stays.

“It’s a personal decision to make a public expression of commitment,” Sands said.

This was one of three pieces of legislation suggested by a group called the Committee to Move Athens Forward, which was created to strengthen rights for those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Athens.

In addition to the domestic partner registry, the group also suggested proposals to strengthen hate crime laws in the city and to provide domestic partner benefits to city employees. This week, an ordinance to strengthen the hate crime laws was also passed.

However, no legislation to provide domestic partner benefits to city employees has been introduced. On Monday, Mayor Paul Wiehl said the city is still working out the details of such an arrangement before legislation can be brought forward.

According to Mickey Hart, member of the Committee to Move Athens Forward and director of the Ohio University LGBT Center, Ohio University has offered benefits to domestic partners for several years.

Hart said that he thought some citizens would have spoken out against the group’s proposals, but was certain that Council would support the initiatives when they were first introduced. He said he is pleased that there was no opposition to any of the proposals.

“Public attitude toward LGBT has come a long way,” Hart said

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