Leading from the Left

Friday, October 12, 2007

Thirteen years on

Yesterday, October 11th, marked the 13th anniversary of the enactment of Carrboro's domestic partnership ordinances. The Board of Aldermen passed 2 ordinances that a) extended health insurance coverage to the domestic partners of town employees and b) established a registry so Carrboro citizens could register their partnerships.

In passing those ordinances, Carrboro became the first local government in the South to pass such ordinances.

I've been reflecting on the passage of those historic ordinances the past few days. Boy, things have changed. Back in 1994 hardly anyone even knew what a domestic partner was. To the average person, it sounded vaguely like some sort of maid service!

But today, 13 years on, domestic partnerships have become the moderate position (compared to marriage, for example). Even many Republicans now support extending benefits to domestic partners.

As I look back, I'm very proud of the work we did in Carrboro to push the debate forward. When I first raised this issue, in my first year as an Aldermen, I wasn't sure what the public reaction would be. But we were able to use the proposals to start a conversation with the community about the meaning of family. What is a gay or lesbian family? How are gay families different from straight families? How are they the same?

Frankly, most people--even in enlightened Carrboro--hadn't thought much about the topic. The conversation we started with the community about family, about domestic partners, served a valuable purpose as we got the general population to think about these issues for the first time.

I can't help but chuckle as I recall that the first couple in Carrboro to register their partnership was, ironically, a straight couple--Chuck Morton and Wendy Wenck. And Chuck is now a candidate for Mayor!

And so it goes....