Could Ladue Follow U City in Creating Domestic Partnership Registry?
One resident speaks about his desire to see Ladue follow in the footsteps of University City.
Now that University City has created a domestic partnership registry, at least one Ladue resident would like to have the same opportunity in his city.
Bill Donius, formerly of Pulaski Bank, believes the actions of University City are a step forward. “When people are forced to live in a way that they feel society doesn’t condone or doesn’t appreciate, it’s an unhealthy way to live,” said Donius, who grew up in Ladue and returned to live there after spending 14 years in California. “It explains why we’re losing a lot of our creative talent, youth and progressive folks who choose to live in more progressive areas. I have dozens of friends who have left for more progressive places like Boston, Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.”
He believes that University City’s domestic partnership registry will attract more same-sex couples away from the other municipalities. “I just think it makes sense. It’s the obvious move. The gay population is very astute and given the choice, would rather live in a place where it won’t face discrimination.”
Donius said that although he and his partner haven’t personally experienced any discrimination in Ladue, he did postpone moving here because it was one of the last cities in the country to remove an ordinance banning unmarried couples from occupying the same residence. He chose Ladue for a variety of reasons.
“I wanted to live closer to work and in a nice area. It’s a beautiful residential area and part of me wanted to be an advocate for change and to be a pioneer of sorts,” he said.
Donius has not yet spoken to anyone on the city council about creating a domestic partnership registry for Ladue but said he would like to, unless someone else has already started organizing efforts to do the same thing.
Mayor Anthony “Tony” Bommarito said he has not been approached by any groups or individuals about this topic. As for Ladue’s plans to follow in University City’s footsteps, Bommarito said, “I have not been back in town long enough to review it or talk to anyone about it or get any advice from anyone.” He had no comment upon hearing that there may be individuals in the city who want the same rights as University City couples.
Donius believes the next logical step is for Ladue to create a domestic partnership registry with the hope that it’ll spread to other municipalities.
“When a group isn’t recognized illegally, it’s easier to discriminate against them; it’s easier for the population to treat them as though they are less worthy,” he said. “People jump to conclusions that they don’t have to be neighborly, don’t have to be nice, don’t have to treat them as human beings. They can think there’s something wrong with them since they don’t have legal standing.”
While he admits the St. Louis area and Ladue are conservative places, he compares discrimination against gay couples—especially when one argument the opposition puts forward is that allowing gay marriage will lead to allowing people to marry their pets—to the problems interracial couples endured in years past.
“Who knows? Maybe they compared blacks to animals when whites wanted to marry them. Interracial marriages were illegal until 1967,” Donius said. “It’s taken 40 years for us not to turn our heads when we see an interracial couple. I don’t think it’s going to take us 40 more years to recognize the rights of same-sex couples.” He said that 12 states already recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions and that eventually the Supreme Court will have to take on the issue.
Donius believes a community benefits when couples are accepted and have legal rights. “Once we recognize and accept people for whom they are it makes them assimilate more easily into a community. And when they get healthy recognition, healthier behaviors follow,” he said.