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Dave Olson, Published April 27 2010

Moorhead City Council to draft domestic partnership ordinance

After a procession of people spoke in favor of a domestic partnership registry, the Moorhead City Council on Monday directed staff to draft an ordinance similar to one that established a registry in Duluth, Minn., last year.

A Moorhead ordinance would still need council approval before it is put in place.

Three of the council’s eight voting members spoke in favor of a registry Monday, stating it would enhance Moorhead’s reputation as a community that welcomes people.

The Moorhead Human Rights Commission recommended that the council approve an ordinance establishing a registry, which has been used in other cities to recognize committed family relationships between two people who are not married.

“It isn’t often that they (Human Rights Commission members) bring an action to us to consider,” Council Member Diane Wray Williams said, adding she believes a registry would enhance the city’s appeal and “give us all a wonderful place to live.”

“I think this is a step we need to take,” agreed council member Mark Altenburg.

City Council member Greg Lemke said only good could come from it. He added that a registry may be symbolic, but it would have a major effect on how couples in committed relationships perceive their place in the community.

“It shows you are welcome and that your city does include you,” Lemke said.

A number of people who said they live in the Fargo-Moorhead area told the council that a domestic partnership registry would make Moorhead attractive to people who are looking for a city that embraces diversity.

Kristen Benson urged the council to “live our ethic” to be inclusive.

No council members spoke in opposition to a registry Monday, but during a previous meeting Mayor Mark Voxland and City Council member Luther Stueland questioned whether the city was the place to establish such an ordinance.

In Moorhead, the mayor has authority to vote in tie-breaking situations.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555