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Evans urges correction of DP regsJune 12, 2002
The Honorable Anthony A. Williams
Mayor of the District of Columbia
The John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Sixth Floor
Washington, DC 20004
Dear Mayor Williams:
As you know, the Council recently passed PR 14-655, the "Domestic Partnership Registration and Procedures and Fees Approval Resolution of 2002", which will implement the Health Care Benefits Expansion Act of 1992, of which I was a co-author.
I agreed to move forward on those regulations due to the need to quickly implement this much-delayed program of great importance to me and my constituents; however, I have a number of outstanding concerns about the implementation of this law that I think should be addressed as soon as possible.
First among my concerns is that the regulations do not recognize the domestic partnership registrations of District residents which were executed from September 1992 to the present. On September 30, 1992, then Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly issued a directive which created a system whereby citizens could register their partnerships without violating the Congressionally-imposed expenditure of funds prohibition, which was to go into effect the very next day. That system entailed the citizens signing a notarized statement and mailing it to DCRA via certified mail. A copy of the notarized statement, and the returned certified mail receipt, were the citizens' proof of registration. While I think most of the already existing registrants would be happy to get an official form from the city, as under the new regulations, I think that charging them the full registration fees as under proposed § 8007.2 is wrong. I would suggest the regulations be amended to take into account the existing registrants, and charge them only the certificate fee of $18.00. The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance has suggested there are more than 100 potential past registrants out there, and I would suggest there are even more than that, as my office has been sending out these domestic partnership registration forms for years. I would suggest the following amendment to the regulations:
8007.3 Partnerships registered in accordance with the Act between September 30, 1992 to April 8, 2002 may present documentation to the Director supporting a valid, registered partnership to obtain a certified copy of a certificate as under § 8007.2.
I remain concerned about DCRA's alleged destruction of the existing domestic partnership records which were in its possession. In light of that serious problem, I think it is especially important to recognize the prior registrants. In fact, the Corporation Counsel's memo of May 6, 2002 states "it would be permissible to recognize those earlier partnership agreements." We should do everything we can to recognize these existing, registered partnerships, and I would urge the adoption of this amendment as soon as possible.
There are other possible refinements to the regulations which should be pursued. GLAA has recommended the regulations should be amended to extend full faith and credit to partnerships, or civil unions, registered in other jurisdictions. The District is very lucky to have so many visitors and tourists every year who come to enjoy our city, or for one of the many events or rallies held here. What if a tourist from another jurisdiction is hit by a car while here in DC, and their partner is turned away from the hospital? Likewise, there are neighboring jurisdictions which recognize domestic partners, some of whom may be admitted for treatment in District hospitals. Shouldn't we give some level of assurance to registered partners from other jurisdictions that their partnership will be respected under our law if they are here visiting the District?
Some very thoughtful concerns have been raised by Whitman Walker Clinic as well. They have suggested changes to clarify section 8002, regarding benefits after the death of a domestic partner. Surely we would want the surviving partner to maintain such benefits as bereavement leave and even have a role in the control of the remains. They also suggest that surviving partners of District employees be allowed to pay for continued insurance coverage, as would be the case with any surviving spouse. I think these are very reasonable suggestions and should be incorporated into the regulations.
These suggestions are the most pressing ones, and I would appreciate your commitment to addressing them as soon as possible.
Councilmember - Ward 2
cc: Members, Council of the District of Columbia