[HISTORY: Adopted by the Annual Town Meeting of the Town of Nantucket 4-8-1996 by Art. 53, approved 7-15-1996. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Town recognizes the diverse composition of its citizenry and values its people. The Town acknowledges that people's lives have evolved from when laws governing family relationships were enacted. Perpetuation of the traditional definitions of "family" excludes a significant segment of the Nantucket population, deprives them of recognition and validation, and denies certain rights that should be afforded to persons who share their homes, their hearts and their lives. The Town, recognizing its commitment to nondiscrimination and fair treatment of its citizens and employees, hereby adopts this chapter acknowledging domestic partnerships.
This chapter allows persons in committed relationships who meet the criteria established by the Town as constituting domestic partnerships to register at the office of the Town Clerk and obtain a certificate attesting to the registration of their domestic partnership. This chapter recognizes certain rights of access for domestic partners and grants certain employment benefits to domestic partners who are Town employees.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The Code of the Town of Nantucket, as amended.
- COMPETENT TO CONTRACT
- Eighteen years of age or older and mentally competent to contract.
- A minor who lives within the household of a domestic partnership and is:
- DOMESTIC PARTNER
- A person who meets the criteria set out in the definition of "domestic partnership" in § 34-2, or who is registered as such in another jurisdiction.
- DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP
- The entity formed by two persons who meet the following criteria and jointly file a registration statement proclaiming that:
- A. They are in a relationship of mutual support, caring and commitment and intend to remain in such a relationship.
- B. They reside together.
- C. They are not married.
- D. They are not related by blood closer than would bar marriage in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
- E. They are each other's sole domestic partner.
- F. They are competent to contract.
- G. They consider themselves to be a family.
- Active and retired employees of the Town, the Nantucket School Department and the Nantucket Airport Commission eligible for benefits pursuant to state or municipal law, employment policies or collective bargaining agreements.
- The Town and its various department heads, the Town's Personnel Board, the Nantucket School Department and School Committee, and the Nantucket Airport Commission and all other Town agencies, boards, commissions and departments, as appropriate.
- MUTUAL SUPPORT
- The domestic partners each contribute in some fashion, not necessarily equally or financially, to the maintenance and support of the domestic partnership.
- RESIDE TOGETHER
- Living together in a common household. A partner may be temporarily absent from the common household, so long as she or he has the intent to return. A partner may own or maintain an additional residence.
- The Town of Nantucket.
Persons who meet the criteria set forth in the definition of "domestic partnership" in § 34-2 may make an official record of their domestic partnership by filing a domestic partnership registration form with the Town Clerk. The domestic partnership registration form shall contain a statement that the domestic partners meet all of the criteria of the definition of "domestic partnership" in § 34-2 and shall set forth the name and date of birth of each of the domestic partners and the address of their common household within the Town and County of Nantucket and shall be signed, under the pains and penalties of perjury, before a notary public, by both domestic partners.
Domestic partners may amend the domestic partnership to change the household address. Amendments to the domestic partnership registration shall be signed, under the pains and penalties of perjury, before a notary public, by both domestic partners.
A domestic partnership is terminated by the death of a domestic partner or by the filing of a termination statement by a domestic partner.
The death of a domestic partner automatically terminates a domestic partnership.
A domestic partnership may be terminated by a domestic partner who files with the Town Clerk, by hand or by certified mail, a termination statement. The termination statement must be signed by the domestic partner, under the pains and penalties of perjury, before a notary public, and must declare that the domestic partnership is terminated and that a copy of the termination statement has been mailed by certified mail to the other domestic partner at her or his last known address. The person filing the termination statement must include on such statement the address to which the copy was mailed.
The termination of a domestic partnership shall be effective immediately upon the death of a domestic partner. The voluntary termination of a domestic partnership by a domestic partner shall be effective seven days after the receipt of a termination statement by the Town Clerk. Prior to the termination becoming effective, the person filing the termination statement may withdraw it by appearing in person at the office of the Town Clerk. If the termination statement is so withdrawn, the domestic partner making such withdrawal shall give notice of the withdrawal, by certified mail, to the other domestic partner.
If a domestic partnership is terminated by the death of a domestic partner, there shall be no required waiting period prior to the filing of another domestic partnership registration. If a domestic partnership is voluntarily terminated by either or both domestic partners, neither domestic partner may file another domestic partnership registration until six months have elapsed from the effective date of such termination.
The Town Clerk shall collect a reasonable fee for filing a domestic partnership registration. The initial amount of this fee shall be $15, and it shall be adjusted as necessary to remain consistent with the fee for an application for a marriage license.
Upon receipt of a domestic partnership registration and the filing fee required under § 34-4A, the Town Clerk shall issue a certificate of registration of domestic partnership and shall mail to the household of the domestic partnership one certified copy of the certificate attesting to the registration of the domestic partnership, the names of the domestic partners and the date upon which the domestic partnership registration form was filed with the Town Clerk.
The Town Clerk shall maintain records of domestic partnerships registered in the Town. The Town Clerk shall provide forms to persons requesting them in accordance with § 34-12.
The Town Clerk shall allow public access to domestic partnership records.
Persons who have registered their domestic partnership with the Town Clerk pursuant to § 34-3 are entitled to the following rights:
Visitation at health-care facilities.
A domestic partner shall have the same visitation rights as a spouse or parent of a patient at all health-care facilities operated and maintained by the Town. A dependent shall have the same visitation rights as a patient's child.
The term "health care facilities" includes Our Island Home and other similarly operated and maintained hospitals, convalescent facilities, mental health care facilities, nursing homes, and other short- and long-term care facilities operated and maintained by the Town.
Visitation at correctional facilities.
A domestic partner shall have the same visitation rights at all correctional facilities operated and maintained by the Town as a spouse or parent of a person in custody. A dependent shall have the same visitation rights afforded to the child of a person in custody.
The term "correctional facilities" includes, but is not limited to, holding cells, jails and juvenile correction centers operated and maintained by the Town.
Access to children's school records and personnel.
A domestic partner who is also the custodial parent or legal guardian of a child may file a school authorization form at, or send a letter to, the child's school to indicate that the parent's domestic partner shall have access to the child's records, access to school personnel in matters concerning the child and access to the child, including the right to remove such child from the school for sickness or family emergency. The school shall afford such person access as directed by the child's parent.
When a domestic partnership is terminated pursuant to § 34-3, it is the responsibility of the parent or guardian to notify the school, in writing, of the termination of rights of the former domestic partner.
As used herein, the term "school" shall only include facilities owned and operated by the Town and shall include, but shall not be limited to, high schools, vocational schools, junior high and middle schools, elementary schools, preschools and preschool programs, after-school programs and day-care programs, provided that such are owned and operated by the Town.
To receive the benefits under this chapter, employees must file a certified copy of the certificate of domestic partnership with their employer and shall promptly notify their employer of any change in the status of their domestic partnership.
Employees shall be granted bereavement leave for the death of a domestic partner or an immediate family member of a domestic partner to the same extent (including pay) as for a spouse or immediate family member of a spouse. Use of the term "in-law" in Chapter 33 of the Code and in any employee handbooks shall include the relatives of a domestic partner.
Employees shall be granted family and medical leave to care for a domestic partner to the same extent (including pay) permitted to care for a spouse, and to care for the dependent of a domestic partner to the same extent (including pay) permitted to care for a child.
Employees shall be entitled to take maternity/paternity leave to take care of a child born to their domestic partner or a newly adopted child to the same extent (including pay) as spouses.
Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, the benefits under § 34-7B, C and D above are only granted to those employees whose compensation and terms and conditions of employment are exclusively governed by the Town's Personnel Bylaw and shall not be conferred upon employees who are members of collective bargaining units.
All rights, privileges and benefits extended to domestic partnerships registered pursuant to this chapter shall also be extended to domestic partnerships registered pursuant to similar laws in other jurisdictions.
No person shall discriminate or retaliate against a person who seeks the benefit of this chapter, registers or makes a statement pursuant to its provisions, or assists another person in obtaining the benefits of this chapter. Any person who so discriminates or retaliates shall be penalized in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 1 of the Code. The provisions of this chapter shall be enforced by the Nantucket Board of Selectmen or its designee.
The provisions of this chapter are severable. If any of its provisions are held invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, all other provisions shall continue in full force and effect.
The Town Clerk and all employers shall distribute copies of the following forms to those persons who request them:
The Town Clerk, all employers and any other affected Town boards, committees, agencies, departments and offices shall provide and distribute any other relevant forms that are or that become necessary.