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Domestic Partnerships vs. Marriage

Domestic Partnerships vs. Marriage

Domestic Partnerships vs. Marriage: Which is Better?

The issue of whether domestic partnerships or marriages are better for couples has been a topic of debate for years. Both forms of union offer legal recognition and benefits to a couple, but there are significant differences between them. In this article, we’ll explore the similarities and differences between domestic partnerships and marriage and help you decide which is better for you.

What is a Domestic Partnership?

A domestic partnership is a legal relationship between two people who live together and share a domestic life together. Domestic partnerships were created to give unmarried couples the legal recognition and benefits that married couples enjoy, without requiring them to get married. By creating a legal relationship between two people who are not husband and wife, domestic partnerships offer certain benefits, such as healthcare, inheritance, and child custody rights.

Domestic partnerships can be created between two people of the same sex or opposite sex. However, the laws governing domestic partnerships vary widely from state to state, with some states only allowing domestic partnerships for same-sex couples and others including opposite-sex couples as well.

What is Marriage?

Marriage is a legal and social union between two people, usually recognized by the government or religious institution. It is often a romantic union that creates a permanent bond between two people who wish to spend their lives together. Unlike domestic partnerships, marriage is recognized globally and provides certain benefits that are not available through a domestic partnership.

Benefits of Domestic Partnerships

Domestic partnerships provide several benefits that couples would otherwise only receive through marriage. Some of these benefits include:

1. Healthcare: Domestic partners are often allowed to receive health insurance under their partner’s policy.

2. Medical Decision Making: Domestic partners have the legal right to make medical decisions for their partner in the event that they become incapacitated.

3. Pension Benefits: Domestic partners can receive pensions or other retirement benefits from their partner’s employer.

4. Inheritance Rights: Domestic partners can inherit from their partner without any legal issues.

5. Child Custody: Domestic partners have legal rights to custody and visitation of their partner’s children.

Benefits of Marriage

Marriage provides several benefits that are not available to couples in domestic partnerships. Some of these benefits include:

1. Legal Recognition: Marriage is legally recognized worldwide, making it easier for couples to travel and live together.

2. Tax Benefits: Married couples are eligible for certain tax benefits, such as filing jointly and receiving deductions.

3. Spousal Privilege: Married couples have the right to refuse to testify against each other in court.

4. Immigration Benefits: Married couples can apply for a green card for their spouse if they are from another country.

5. Social Security Benefits: Married couples can receive social security benefits from their spouse’s work record.

Domestic Partnerships vs. Marriage: A State by State Look

Although domestic partnerships and marriage offer similar benefits, the laws governing them vary by state. Here’s a state by state look at how domestic partnerships and marriages are recognized.

California

California was the first state to recognize domestic partnerships back in 1999. Domestic partnerships in California are available to same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples where one partner is at least 62 years of age. Domestic partnerships grant all of the state-level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, including the right to visit a partner in the hospital, the right to sue for wrongful death, and the ability to adopt children.

Colorado

Domestic partnerships are recognized in Colorado, but only in certain cities. For example, Denver and Boulder have domestic partnership registries that grant couples certain benefits like sharing in medical decisions and bereavement leave from work.

Florida

Florida does not recognize domestic partnerships at the state level, but several counties and cities have created domestic partnership registries that grant certain benefits. Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County are among the regions that recognize domestic partnerships.

Massachusetts

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Massachusetts since 2004, making it the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in the United States. Massachusetts also recognizes domestic partnerships, but they only offer limited rights and benefits such as the ability to make medical decisions for a partner.

New York

New York recently passed a law that recognizes same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships. Same-sex couples who enter into a domestic partnership in New York can receive all of the state-level benefits and responsibilities of marriage except for the right to file joint state tax returns.

Washington

Washington was the seventh state to recognize same-sex marriages. The state also recognizes domestic partnerships, which grant all of the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage. Domestic partnerships in Washington are available to same-sex couples who are over 18 years old or opposite-sex couples where at least one partner is over the age of 62.

Conclusion

The decision on whether to enter into a domestic partnership or get married is ultimately a personal one. Both domestic partnerships and marriage offer legal recognition and benefits to couples, but the laws governing them vary by state. As you consider which option is best for you, look at the benefits and responsibilities offered by each and consider which one aligns most closely with your values and lifestyle.


For some, there is a huge difference between domestic partnerships and marriages. First, couples in a domestic partnership, are unable to enjoy the designation of marriage. Many couples argue that the term marriage is the difference between enjoying equal rights or experiencing discrimination.

In addition, individuals in domestic partnerships enjoy fewer rights in regards to their relationship. For some, the difference between domestic partnerships and marriage, can be the rights they enjoy, such as the ability to adopt children or use the services of a surrogate mother. In many cases, domestic partners have no legal ability to start a family.

Domestic partnerships often entitle same sex couples to many of the benefits of marriage. However, there is a big difference between domestic partnerships and marriage. In fact, many members of the LGBT community argue that a domestic partnership is not an acceptable designation of their relationship.

Members of the LGBT community argue that their inability to enter into marriage, perpetuates the discrimination that they already experience on a frequent basis. In addition, domestic partners may not be able to have joint health insurance, joint bank accounts or shared property. In essence, their relationship is only partially, legally recognized.

The difference between a domestic partnership and  marriage, can determine a couples eligibility to adopt children of use the services of a surrogate mother. In fact, many same sex couples adopt their child from another country because of more liberal laws. In addition, many domestic partners use the services of an international surrogate.

Many states forbid same sex couples from starting families, by the wording of their laws. For example, a state’s laws may explain that only married couples may a adopt a child. While that law excludes singles from adopting, it also prevents domestic partners from adopting. If however, same sex couples were able to get married, they may be able to adopt a child locally or utilize the services of a surrogate mother in their state.

The difference between a domestic partnership and ¬†marriage can be small or it can have large implications for a same sex couple. Besides having the designation of marriage, same sex couples may also be forbidden from starting a family. Domestic partnerships may also prevent same sex couples form being able to share health benefits or make medical decisions for their partner. While married couples’ property automatically becomes shared property, domestic partners property may not.

This can cause complications in the event that on partner passes away. However, many domestic partners are able to share leases and other real estate contracts, so that a surviving partner will be able to continue to reside at the property. As laws slowly change, the need for equality becomes more and more clear. The difference between a domestic partnership and a marriage, can mean everything to a same sex couple.