Unmarried Couples Happy for Family Benefits

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COLUMBIA - A same-sex couple said Wednesday Columbia's Domestic Partnership Registry has helped them be recognized as a family.  The ordinance that recognizes same sex and unmarried couples as legal partners has been in effect in Columbia for two years. City Department of Health and Human Services manager, Steve Hollis, said the ordinance helps same sex and opposite sex couples get family-priced rates for parks and recreation services in Columbia. The registry, Hollis said, is non-binding for businesses, so they don't have to recognize it. But many companies in Columbia do.

Tim Roots, a salon owner in Columbia, has been in a domestic partnership for almost five years now, and said although he hasn't needed to use the registry yet, he is glad his partner and he have it in case something ever happened to either of them. Roots said the registry allows him and his partner to be recognized as a family and are allowed the same services and benefits as married couples and families in incidents involving hospitals and insurance.

Hollis said although the initial excitment has died down, there are more than 70 couples registered now with the Department of Health and Human Services. The registry, Hollis said, takes only minutes to complete and can be filled out on the Department of Health and Human Services website, or can be picked up in their office.