The city of Eugene, Ore., has a special gift for same-sex sweethearts this Valentine's Day. February 14 will mark the start of Eugene's domestic partnership registry, which will give gay couples--as well as unmarried heterosexual couples--the opportunity to have their ongoing, committed relationships recognized by a government entity. "I think we have four or five [couples] lined up already, and this is just word of mouth," said Eugene city record's office employee Mary Feldman. "People have called in asking about it, and we have taken the appointments," she said. "Now we're really going to start getting the word out."
Eugene's registry--Oregon's third, following similar programs in Ashland and Multnomah County--was unanimously approved by the council in November following a year of public debate. Registration will be an official but largely symbolic act. It is open to any couple in a relationship "of mutual support and commitment." The law stops short of requiring businesses or agencies within the city limits to extend benefits or privileges, and it has no legal bearing on the state or national level. It does protect registered couples from discrimination in public housing in Eugene. Each partner of a couple must be at least 18 years old; they cannot be blood relatives, and they will be required to sign statements affirming their domestic-partnership status.They will not be required to be city residents but must bring government-issued photo identification, such as driver's licenses or passports, to register. Registration costs $50; filling out the paperwork takes about 15 minutes.