Issues Affecting Same-Sex Couples FAQ

What are domestic partnership benefits?

Domestic partners are unmarried couples (of the same or opposite sex) who live together and seek the same benefits that are granted to their married counterparts. Some states recognize domestic partnerships, and more and more local governments and businesses do as well. For more information on same-sex relationship recognition, see Same-Sex Relationship Recognition by State.

Domestic partner benefits vary, depending on who is recognizing the partnership. Some states, like California, provide benefits that make domestic partnerships the functional equivalent of marriage. Cities and businesses may offer more limited benefits. Either way, benefits can include things like:

  • health, dental, and vision insurance
  • sick and bereavement leave
  • accident and life insurance
  • death benefits
  • parental leave (for a child you co-parent)
  • housing rights and tuition reduction (at universities), and
  • use of recreational facilities.

Usually, you must register as domestic partners in order to receive benefits. In states offering domestic partnership benefits, this may require filing a form with the court or Secretary of State. To learn more, see Nolo's article Domestic Partnership Benefits.

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