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Do Domestic Partnerships Have Rights and Benefits?

Benefits And Gay Marriage Rights Granted To Civil Union Partnerships

The benefits granted to those in civil unions, in support of gay marriage rights, vary from state to state. Generally speaking, civil unions and domestic partnerships alike are intended to replace the legalization of a same-sex marriage by giving same-sex marriage-minded couples the ability to obtain similar state rights and benefits of a heterosexual marriage, just without the actual legal recognition of the civil union being a "marriage." Simply put, it's same-sex marriage without the all-important title, and also, in some cases, with fewer benefits. Regardless, it's still a major first step taken toward providing full gay marriage rights.

In the best case scenarios of states which have created a form of gay marriage rights by way of a civil union law, civil unions provide the same exact state benefits (again, no federal rights and benefits are provided) which are presented to those in a heterosexual marriage. Before same-sex marriage was legalized in the states of New Hampshire and Connecticut, for instance, civil unions in the states were accorded full gay-marriage rights, completely equal to those which opposite-sex partnerships were permitted to receive.

Currently, Washington, New Jersey, and Nevada civil unions grant full state benefits. In such cases, couples have the ability to file state taxes together, the right to make medical decisions on behalf of a partner within the state's borders, hospital visitation rights, family leave benefits, the ability to inherit a partner's estate (even without a will), and the right to transfer motor vehicle titles, among hundreds of other benefits.

Although it was not seen as an equal replacement for state-acknowledged same-sex marriage, at least it temporarily allowed gay couples equal state protections and benefits.

States which are far more hesitant about legalizing same-sex marriage for the time, but who have chosen to recognize at least minimal gay marriage rights, however, such as Colorado, Hawaii, and Maine offer only the most basic of benefits for those in a homosexual partnerships.

By and large, these benefits include the ability to make funeral arrangements, the right to death benefits, and the right to medical decisions, which are certainly some of the most crucial of the gay-marriage rights.

And while state civil union laws are intended to, in a way, be "everything but marriage," there have nonetheless been an exceptional amount of reports which suggest that employers still refuse to recognize same-sex civil unions, and deny gay partnerships the benefits they are entitled, by law, to receive through their workplace.

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