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What States Support Gay Rights with Domestic Partnerships

Brief Description Of States That Allow And The Differences Between Them

Domestic partnerships are legally allowed and recognized in nine states and in the District of Columbia. Domestic partnerships are legal and confer some rights to same sex couples in California, Nevada, Oregon, Colorado Washington state, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Maine, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. However, each state offers different rights and responsibilities as they pertain to those relationships.

In addition, the federal government observes no domestic partnership law, and disallows any federal consideration of the rights conferred to domestic partnerships. In fact, The defense of Marriage Act, was enacted on a federal level and allows states to forbid the legal recognition of same sex relationships, in any form. However, many states have chosen to legally recognize same sex relationships in the form of domestic partnerships. Each state's domestic partnership law allows different rights to be conferred on the relationship.

Some states recognize every and all marriage rights, as part of a domestic partnership. These rights include, but are not limited to; the right to share property and assets, get joint loans and mortgages, shared health and death benefits, inheritance of property and assets in the absence of a will, vitiation rights in hospitals and in prisons, the ability to make decisions regarding a partners medical care and the right to legally end the relationship.

In the event that the relationship ends, some states allow for a domestic partnership to be treated like a marriage as it pertains to the division of property and the need for separation or maintenance payments for one partner. Most states that legally recognize domestic partnerships, only confer a portion of these rights onto the relationship. While couples that move to another state may still find that their relationship is recognized, they may find that they are not afforded all of the same rights regarding the relationship.

Some states have domestic partnerships laws that confer all rights associated with marriage, except the right to call the relationship a marriage. California is one such state. California confers any and all marriage rights to a domestic partnership. In addition, California recognizes all legal domestic partnerships performed in other states, and will in fact, confer any additional rights that California offers, in addition to the rights of the state where the domestic partnership originated.

California allows domestic partners to enjoy all of the same rights as a married opposite sex couple. In California, the only right not conferred to domestic partnerships, is the title of marriage. In addition, Nevada offers domestic partners all of the same rights as married couples in that state. Currently Nevada and California are the only two states to confer any and all rights of marriage, to a domestic partnership.

There are some domestic partnership laws that allow only limited marriage rights to be conferred upon a domestic partnership. In the District of Columbia, domestic partnerships are open to same sex and opposite sex couples and partners are offered the same rights as married couples, regarding estate planning and other property related issues.

In other words, domestic partners are conferred property related rights only. Domestic partners in the District of Columbia have no rights regarding health care. However, same sex marriage was recently legalized in the District of Columbia and those couples can enjoy all of the benefits conferred upon a marriage. In addition, since the District of Columbia recently allowed the legal recognition of same sex marriage they may soon do away with domestic partnerships for same sex couples since it is no longer necessary.

In Oregon, domestic partners are entitled to many, but not all of the rights conferred to a married couple. Domestic partnership laws in Oregon allow partners to share health insurance, inherit property, plan funerals and individuals are allowed to visit partners in the hospital. In addition, domestic partners in Washington state are able to inherit property in the absence of a will, visit partners in the hospital and make some medical decisions as they relate to the end of life. These medical decisions include the right to request an autopsy and an ability to make organ donations.
In Wisconsin, domestic partners receive very limited rights, as compared to other states . In Maine, domestic partners receive inheritance rights and rights regarding health care decisions. The right to make health care decisions is important and offered in very few domestic partnerships.

In Maryland, domestic partners can enter into a designated beneficiary agreement which allows couples to visit in hospitals and prisons, the right to a shared room in a nursing home and the right to plan funerals. Colorado offers domestic partners limited rights in regards to their relationship.In Colorado, couples can enter into a designated beneficiary agreement that will afford couples certain rights as they pertain to the relationship.

Some states that legally recognize domestic partnerships, confer all of the rights of marriage on the partnership. However, most states offer domestic partners limited rights in relation to their relationship. While some laws apply to entire states, there are also certain cities that have allowed for a domestic partner registry.

For instance, Ann Arbour allows domestic partners to register and they receive many of the same rights as a married couple.Regardless of state and local domestic partnership laws, no domestic partnership will be legally recognized on a federal level. Therefore, domestic partners can not enjoy any of the federal benefits associated with marriage.

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