Domestic Partnership Law

Domestic Partnership Law

The area of law that deals with the rights of unmarried adults who choose to live together in the same manner as a married couple but who are not married.

Domestic partnership law is evolving rapidly, in part because more individuals are choosing to identify themselves as domestic partners. Although any two adults living together in a loving relationship may be called partners, the term is most frequently used to describe same-sex couples.

In the last decade of the twentieth century and continuing into the twenty-first, a number of city and county governments enacted domestic partnership laws, including Seattle, New York City, and Broward County, Florida. In 1999, California passed a state domestic partnership law that provided a number of protections that formerly had been offered only to married couples. These protections include the right to inherit from a partner's estate; the right to make medical decisions for an incapacitated partner; the right to use sick leave to care for a partner; the right to obtain Health Insurance through a partner; and the right to adopt a partner's child as a step-parent. Domestic partners in California may obtain these benefits by registering with the state.

Although domestic partnership law is intended to provide benefits to partners, it still represents uncharted territory and is far from comprehensive or complete. Using the California law as an example, a domestic partner is defined as a committed member of a same-sex couple; heterosexual couples who cohabit may not register as domestic partners. The rationale is that heterosexual couples in a committed relationship have the option of marriage, an option that is not open to same-sex couples. The only exception for heterosexual couples is when one partner is age 62 or older, because frequently Senior Citizens who cohabit run the risk of losing part of their Social Security benefits if they marry.

A more problematic issue for domestic partners is the fact that their partnership is generally not recognized outside of their jurisdiction. Thus, their domestic partnership rights are not binding if they should move to a community that has no such laws of its own. In fact, domestic partners who relocate to a new community that does have protective laws are advised to reregister in their new home in order to eliminate any Ambiguity.


Adoption; Gay and Lesbian Rights; Family Law.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
When a conservative organization in 2009 mounted a legal challenge to Wisconsins domestic partnership law, the attorney general declined to defend it, so then-Gov.
Supporters of the domestic partnership law say it codifies the rights of same-sex couples as essentially the same as traditional marriages, reported the Fox News.
The first domestic partnership law was enacted in Berkley, California, in 1984.
(19) The legislature then adopted a domestic partnership law that provided that same-sex couples who registered as domestic partners "shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law, whether they derive from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law, or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses." (20) The governor signed that bill into law, and it was upheld by the California Court of Appeal against a challenge that the law was contrary to Proposition 22 and therefore unconstitutional under article 2, section 10(c) of the state constitution.
Supreme Court really wanted to make a judgment based on our laws, it would once and for all force states to remove themselves from the marriage doctrine and separate it from what's really domestic partnership law.
Washington voters were the first to affirm same-sex relationship recognition in 2009 by approving Referendum 71, which upheld the expanded domestic partnership law.
(55.) This approach has been reflected even in a business association model of domestic partnership law. See Drobac & Page, supra note 2, at 410-12 (suggesting a community property model for all income earned during partnership and compelling joint spousal responsibility for children).
The decision stemmed from a 2009 Washington state bill that expanded the state's domestic partnership law. According to National Public Radio (NPR), opponents of the bill collected 120,000 signatures for a ballot measure to repeal it.
Voters in Maine repealed a law legalizing same-sex marriage, while Washington voters approved a new domestic partnership law. To date, no state's voters have approved the legalization of same-sex marriage, and voters in 29 states have prohibited it.
(The Religious Right was less successful in Washington State, where a domestic partnership law narrowly won approval from the voters.)
She also lobbied in 1995 for Atlanta's domestic partnership law, and she helped found the Bayard Rustin Rally and In the Life Atlanta.
1, 2000, but community property rights were not added to the domestic partnership law until passage of AB 205.
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