Columbia City Council changes definition of family for zoning purposes

Dec 4, 2013

Columbia City Hall
Columbia City Hall
Credit KBIA

The Columbia City Council Monday changed the definition of a family in the city code to include domestic partnerships.  

The code that restricts how many unrelated adults can live in a home was originally meant to curb overcrowding, with special recognition for married couples and their children, but city council representative Michael Trapp said the code needed an update to make it more inclusive.

“It reflects a community consensus of tolerance and acceptance, and that it was on the consent agenda because it was really not a controversial decision at all but just catching our law up to how folks are living now,” Trapp said.

In the Human Rights Campaign's yearly report on cities and equality, Columbia scored 74 out of 100 for its support of LGBT community members. This was much higher than Jefferson City's score of 12, but not as good as St. Louis and Kansas City's perfect 100's. Changing the definition of family is the type of thing that could improve Columbia's score for next year's report.

Sarah Mitchell is a volunteer at The Center Project, a Columbia-based resource center serving sexuality and gender based communities. She said Columbia is a great place to live in terms of the sense of acceptance the LGBT community feels.

“Even though it is Mid-Missouri and we're kind of known for being a little bit more conservative, I think Columbia in itself is kind of a great place to live in terms of the community and the sense of support that the LGBT community gets,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said policies and laws that recognize all relationships could eventually change the attitudes of people in Columbia who are less accepting.

“I mean obviously people aren't going to change overnight because of a new law or a new definition or something, but it certainly brings it into the attention of people,” Mitchell said.

Couples who would like to register as a domestic partnership can see if they are eligible and register at gocolumbiamo.com.