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What States Recognize Domestic Partnerships?

Domestic partnerships have become a popular way for couples to gain legal recognition of their relationship without getting married. However, not all states recognize domestic partnerships, leaving many couples unsure of their legal rights and protections. In this article, we will explore which states recognize domestic partnerships and what benefits and rights come with them.

Several states in the US recognize domestic partnerships, which offer legal protections to unmarried couples. These states include California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin. However, the rights and benefits provided may vary from state to state. It’s important to consult with a lawyer familiar with the laws in your state to fully understand your rights as a domestic partner.

What States Recognize Domestic Partnerships?

What States Recognize Domestic Partnerships?

Domestic partnerships are legal arrangements that offer unmarried couples some of the same rights and benefits as married couples. These arrangements are recognized in some states in the US. If you are in a committed relationship and are considering entering into a domestic partnership, it’s important to know which states recognize them. In this article, we’ll take a look at the states that recognize domestic partnerships and the benefits they offer.

States That Recognize Domestic Partnerships

Domestic partnerships are recognized in a number of states across the US. These states include:

1. California

California was the first state to recognize domestic partnerships in 1999. The state recognizes both same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partnerships. Couples in domestic partnerships in California have many of the same rights and responsibilities as married couples, including the ability to make medical decisions for each other and the right to inherit property.

2. Colorado

Colorado recognizes domestic partnerships for same-sex couples only. Couples in domestic partnerships in Colorado have many of the same rights as married couples, including the right to make medical decisions for each other and the right to inherit property.

3. District of Columbia

The District of Columbia recognizes both same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partnerships. Couples in domestic partnerships in the District of Columbia have many of the same rights and responsibilities as married couples, including the ability to make medical decisions for each other and the right to inherit property.

4. Hawaii

Hawaii recognizes domestic partnerships for same-sex couples only. Couples in domestic partnerships in Hawaii have many of the same rights as married couples, including the right to make medical decisions for each other and the right to inherit property.

5. Illinois

Illinois recognizes domestic partnerships for same-sex couples only. Couples in domestic partnerships in Illinois have many of the same rights as married couples, including the right to make medical decisions for each other and the right to inherit property.

6. Maine

Maine recognizes domestic partnerships for same-sex couples only. Couples in domestic partnerships in Maine have many of the same rights as married couples, including the right to make medical decisions for each other and the right to inherit property.

7. Maryland

Maryland recognizes domestic partnerships for same-sex couples only. Couples in domestic partnerships in Maryland have many of the same rights as married couples, including the right to make medical decisions for each other and the right to inherit property.

8. Nevada

Nevada recognizes domestic partnerships for same-sex couples only. Couples in domestic partnerships in Nevada have many of the same rights as married couples, including the right to make medical decisions for each other and the right to inherit property.

9. New Jersey

New Jersey recognizes domestic partnerships for same-sex couples only. Couples in domestic partnerships in New Jersey have many of the same rights as married couples, including the right to make medical decisions for each other and the right to inherit property.

10. Oregon

Oregon recognizes domestic partnerships for same-sex couples only. Couples in domestic partnerships in Oregon have many of the same rights as married couples, including the right to make medical decisions for each other and the right to inherit property.

Benefits of Domestic Partnerships

Entering into a domestic partnership can offer many benefits to couples, including:

1. Legal Recognition

Domestic partnerships offer legal recognition for committed couples who are not married. This can be important when it comes to making medical decisions for your partner or inheriting property.

2. Healthcare Benefits

Many employers offer healthcare benefits to domestic partners. This can be a valuable benefit for couples who do not have access to healthcare through their own employer.

3. Tax Benefits

Some states offer tax benefits to couples in domestic partnerships. This can include lower property taxes or the ability to file joint tax returns.

Domestic Partnerships Vs Marriage

While domestic partnerships offer many of the same benefits as marriage, there are some differences. For example, couples in domestic partnerships do not have the same federal tax benefits as married couples. Additionally, while domestic partnerships offer legal recognition, they may not offer the same level of protection as marriage in certain situations, such as when it comes to immigration.

Overall, domestic partnerships can be a good option for committed couples who want some of the legal protections and benefits of marriage but are not able or do not want to get married. If you are considering entering into a domestic partnership, it’s important to understand the laws in your state and the benefits and limitations of domestic partnerships.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a domestic partnership?

A domestic partnership is a legal or personal relationship between two individuals who live together and share a domestic life but are not married. Domestic partnerships are recognized by some states, cities, and employers for the purpose of granting benefits to unmarried couples.

Domestic partnerships are usually available to same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples who meet certain eligibility criteria, such as being of a certain age, not being married or in another domestic partnership, and sharing a residence.

What benefits are provided to domestic partners?

The benefits provided to domestic partners vary by state, city, and employer. Generally, domestic partners are eligible for health insurance, retirement benefits, and other employment-related benefits. Domestic partners may also have rights related to inheritance, medical decision-making, and other legal matters.

It is important to check the specific laws and policies in your state or city to determine what benefits are available to domestic partners.

How many states recognize domestic partnerships?

As of 2021, nine states and the District of Columbia recognize domestic partnerships. These states are California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Domestic partnerships are also recognized in some cities and counties, such as New York City and Cook County, Illinois.

It is important to note that the recognition of domestic partnerships varies widely by state and city, and the legal rights and benefits provided to domestic partners may also vary.

Can opposite-sex couples enter into domestic partnerships?

In most states that recognize domestic partnerships, both same-sex and opposite-sex couples are eligible to enter into a domestic partnership. However, some states, such as California, limit domestic partnerships to same-sex couples. It is important to check the specific laws in your state or city to determine who is eligible for a domestic partnership.

It is also important to note that some states have replaced domestic partnerships with same-sex marriage, which provides the same legal rights and benefits as marriage.

How can I get a domestic partnership recognized in my state?

The process for getting a domestic partnership recognized in your state or city varies. In some states, such as California, you can register your domestic partnership with the state government. In other states, you may need to file a declaration of domestic partnership with your employer or other organization to receive benefits.

To determine the process for getting a domestic partnership recognized in your state or city, you should check the specific laws and policies in your area.

What about coverage for domestic partnerships?


In conclusion, domestic partnerships have become an increasingly recognized and accepted form of relationship in the United States. While not all states recognize domestic partnerships, the number of states that do has been steadily growing in recent years. This recognition offers important legal protections and benefits to partners who may not be eligible for marriage or who choose not to marry.

It is important to note that the legal rights and benefits associated with domestic partnerships vary by state. Some states offer limited protections, while others provide rights that are nearly equivalent to those of married couples. It is essential for couples considering a domestic partnership to carefully research the laws in their state and seek legal advice if necessary.

Overall, the recognition of domestic partnerships is a positive development for those who wish to formalize their relationships without getting married. As attitudes and laws continue to evolve, it is likely that even more states will begin to recognize and offer legal protections to domestic partners.

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