Domestic partners to be recognized in HI?

Friday, December 21, 2012

HOLIDAY ISLAND -- Whether the term "domestic partner" stays in a draft of a regulation governing the use of amenities at Holiday Island remains to be seen, but it represents a change from how the historically conservative community has viewed families and households.

Holiday Island commissioners discussed the first draft of Reg. 42, amending the Code of Regulations, at their regular meeting Wednesday.

Under the definitions for golf cart trail fees for property owners, the proposed language gives recognition to domestic partners: "Only the purchaser, a spouse/domestic partner living in the same household, all dependent family members living in the same household and any non-property owner guest accompanied by the above authorized persons, are authorized to ride in a cart with a trail fee sticker."

For non-property owners, the language restricts users to spouse/domestic partner and up to two dependent family members.

What makes adding a domestic partner to who can ride in a golf cart with a trail fee sticker significant is that under the current rules, that person would normally have to pay a rider fee. If they are defined similar to a spouse, they do not.

District Manager Gerald Hartley said the phrase was added during a series of revisions to the document he made with the district's attorney, Tom Morris, in an attempt to "modernize the document, recognizing that there are a lot of different family relationships that exist out there, and it would be appropriate to include that in those definitions."

But the definition of "family" has been somewhat arbitrary in Holiday Island amenity rules, depending on which amenity is being talked about.

"I wasn't here, but it appears that what has happened over the years is they tried to address concerns of property owners using the amenities and what they ended up with was a different definition for all these sections," Hartley said by phone later.

There are different definitions of "family" for the golf course, the Recreation Center and the campground.

The code, currently provided on the HISID website, states under golf activity cards that a family activity card can be used by the property owners listed on the card and "all dependent family members living in the household." Swim pass cards allow property owners and defines "immediate family," as parents, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and their spouses.

The campground allows use for property owners and their guests but does not define "guests" or mention immediate or extended family members.

In 2006, property owners asked the board to expand the definition of immediate family members as children and grandchildren to include brothers and sisters. The board did not approve that request.

In the code's Section 5-2, "Types of property ownership," it specifies that ownership is awarded to the first two names on a deed, but that "the title is held in a variety of ways," giving 10 different types of ownership, including husband and wife, single individuals, married owning property "in his own right," two individuals, trusts, corporations and incomplete probate proceedings and contracts for deeds.

The generally recognized definition of "domestic partner" includes unmarried opposite-sex and same-sex couples. Although nine states have legalized same-sex marriage, Arkansas is not one of them. In 2004, Arkansas banned the recognition of same-sex marriages by constitutional amendment. In 2007, nearby Eureka Springs established a Domestic Partner Registry, and the city last year approved providing health insurance for domestic partners of city workers. Last month the city council endorsed marriage equality.

The states that have legalized same-sex marriage are Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington. The District of Columbia has also legalized it. Rhode Island recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, and California recognizes them conditionally.

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