Domestic partnerships were born in the early 1980s, when lesbian and gay activists sought recognition of their relationships and new definitions of family. Advocates for domestic partner rights pointed out that an estimated 10% of American families comprise a working husband, a stay-at-home wife, and children; however, our legal and social systems still provided benefits and protections based on that model. Presented with these arguments, some local governments created domestic partnership laws.
In 1982, the Village Voice newspaper became the first private company to offer its employees domestic partnership benefits. The City of Berkeley was the first municipality to do so in 1984. In 1995, Vermont became the first state to extend domestic partnership benefits to its public employees. In 1997, Hawaii became the first state to extend domestic partnership benefits to all same-sex couples throughout the state. Now many states offer domestic partnership benefits to state employees, while a handful of other states offer domestic partnership registration to same-sex couples who want the same rights and responsibilities of married couples.
Domestic partners are unmarried couples, of the same or opposite sex, who live together and seek economic and noneconomic benefits comparable to those granted their married counterparts.
In California, D.C., Nevada, Oregon, and Washington state, domestic partnership status is offered and regulated by the state and grants some or all of the rights and responsibilities of marriage. Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois and New Jersey do the same, but call it civil unions instead of domestic partnership. Wisconsin offers some statewide spousal rights, but more limited than the aforementioned states.
Some of these states limit domestic partnership registration to same-sex couples, though some also include opposite-sex couples in which one partner is 62 or older. In other places, domestic partnership benefits are offered by smaller governmental entities or businesses and are more limited. In either case, benefits can include:
When a state, municipality, county, organization, private company, university, or college considers providing domestic partnership benefits, it must address several important issues:
on Domestic Partnership
297. (a) Domestic partners are two adults who have chosen to share
one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of
(b) A domestic partnership shall be established in California when
both persons file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the
Secretary of State pursuant to this division, and, at the time of
filing, all of the following requirements are met:
(1) Neither person is married to someone else or is a member of
another domestic partnership with someone else that has not been
terminated, dissolved, or adjudged a nullity.
(2) The two persons are not related by blood in a way that would
prevent them from being married to each other in this state.
(3) Both persons are at least 18 years of age, except as provided
in Section 297.1.
(4) Either of the following:
(A) Both persons are members of the same sex.
(B) One or both of the persons meet the eligibility criteria under
Title II of the Social Security Act as defined in Section 402(a) of
Title 42 of the United States Code for old-age insurance benefits or
Title XVI of the Social Security Act as defined in Section 1381 of
Title 42 of the United States Code for aged individuals.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, persons of
opposite sexes may not constitute a domestic partnership unless one
or both of the persons are over 62 years of age.
(5) Both persons are capable of consenting to the domestic
The following link is useful information for Domestic Partnership facts