Some states have adopted domestic partnership laws, while others have not. In fact, there are about ten states that currently legally recognize domestic partnerships. In fact, laws change quickly and the number of states that legally recognize same sex relationships in any form, fluctuates.
Currently, domestic partnerships, in title, are seen as outdated by some members of the LGBT community. In fact, many are pushing for a legally defined, same sex marriage so that couples are assured of receiving equal rights in regards to the legality of their relationship.
In the late seventies, a man in California lost his partner and requested to be paid for bereavement time. His employer refused to pay him and the courts agreed. The decision was made because they had no proof as to the validity of the relationship. The case was the first to use the term, domestic partnership, and the first to decide against a domestic partnership law.
Later, in California, Berkeley students defined the term and pushed for a domestic partnership law that would legally recognize same sex relationships in the city. The City council voted on the proposition and those that voted against it, later failed to win reelection. The City Council did not adopt a domestic partnership law.
In fact, the Berkeley school board may have been the first to approve a domestic partnership law that would recognize same sex relationships. However, the Berkeley city council eventually passed their own domestic partnership law and a registry was created in 1991.
The acceptance of domestic partnership laws began to become a nationwide issue. Cities throughout California, began to pass their own domestic partnership laws. Eventually, California passed state wide domestic partnerships laws and became the first state to do so.
Six years later, California began to extend more rights to domestic partners and it was the first state to do so without intervention from the courts. In the interim, other states began to adopt domestic partnership laws. Each state offers unique benefits to couples that are in a legally recognized domestic partnership.
Domestic partnership laws are currently in effect in about 1/5 of states in the Country. However, each state’s laws vary greatly as far as which rights and responsibilities couples are entitled to. In some cases, couples are entitled to shared health benefits, and other times they are not.
In addition, some states view domestic partnerships as an alternative to opposite sex marriage, which grants couples all of the same rights and responsibilities. While domestic partnerships were the first step to ensuring equal rights for the LGBT community, many same sex couples are now striving to have their relationship defined as a legally recognized marriage.