The St. Paul City Council is expected to adopt an ordinance today allowing domestic partners to register with the city.
Under the ordinance, same-sex or opposite-sex couples could apply for a certificate showing that they are in a committed relationship.
The certification does not provide any legal protections or benefits, but Amy Johnson, the executive director of OutFront Minnesota, said she welcomes the largely symbolic gesture.
"It matters that the city is saying, 'We recognize that you're a couple, and we want afford you as much dignity and respect as we can recognize your relationship,'" Johnson said. "It means a lot for the government to even symbolically recognize us."
Similar registries in Duluth and Minneapolis have received a mixed response. Nine couples have registered in Duluth since the program's inception on June 22, including several heterosexual couples. About 1,660 couples have registered in the past 18 years in Minneapolis.
Over 75 cities nationwide have similar ordinances, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
Supporters say that the registry could serve as a legal document that would make it easier for employers to offer benefits to same-sex couples and their dependents.
Paul Duran, legal director of OutFront Minnesota, said that local ordinances are also part of the larger fight for marriage equality. "Sometimes change bubbles up from the local level to the state level," Duran said. "This might be one of those situations."
Opponents of gay marriage have not announced any plans to protest the ordinance. Tom Prichard, president of the conservative Minnesota Family Council, dismissed the registry as insignificant in the larger fight for same-sex marriage.
"It's not a legal threat," Prichard said. "I think they're just raising it now to get some momentum."
Mayor Chris Coleman is expected to sign the ordinance into law. It would go into effect in 30 days.