Tuesday, October 1 is the first day for same sex and opposite sex domestic partners to sign up on the City of Missoula's Domestic Partnership Registry.

Ward four's Caitlin Copple, the first openly LGBT member of the city council, was a driving force behind the registry's creation that passed unanimously on July 20. She said the registry is one way couples can declare themselves to the community at large.

"The domestic partnership registry is basically a way for the city of Missoula to recognize the commitment that same sex and opposite sex unmarried couples want to make to each other," Copple said. "Similar registries are being created in communities all over the country, especially in a state like Montana, where there is no marriage equality for same sex couples."

Copple said applying to the registry is entirely voluntary. Although it doesn't grant any legal rights to couples, it may be useful in other ways.

"Having the registry card in your wallet can often help emergency workers as well as hospital staff, so that they would know who to call in case you were hurt and had to be hospitalized," Copple said. "It's certainly no substitute for real marriage equality, but it is an important symbolic step open to couples across Montana. But, unfortunately in Montana, we have a ban against same sex marriage."

Ward Four City Councilwoman Caitlin Copple: