Couple recognition, state by state

Timothy Kincaid

December 1st, 2010

Upon the governor’s signature, Illinois will become the second state that is currently offering civil unions to same-sex couples. The status of the various recognition mechanisms is as follows:

on the same terms as heterosexual marriage – 5.1% of US Population:

New Hampshire
District of Columbia

Civil Unions
– a rights except the name – 7.1% of US Population:

New Jersey

Domestic Partnerships will all the rights except the name – 16.3% of US Population


Limited recognition of same-sex couples – 6.2% of US Population

Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits
Colorado – Reciprocal Benefits
Wisconsin – Domestic Partnerships
Maine – Domestic Partnerships
Maryland – Domestic Partnerships

In addition, the states of Maryland and New York (6.4% of US Population) will give full recognition to same-sex marriages conducted where legal. Rhode Island may possibly do so also (it’s a bit uncertain) and offers unregistered Domestic Partnerships with a scant handful of rights.

Also, there are dozens of cities offer some form of recognition and protection for same-sex couples.


December 1st, 2010

What’s the difference between having Civil Unions with all rights except the name and Domestic Partnerships will all the rights except the name?

Mario Marin

December 1st, 2010

Usually domestic partnerships require the couple to live in the same house.

Timothy Kincaid

December 1st, 2010

Michael, good question. Mostly it’s a matter of how the recognition is formed.

Domestic Partnerships are based on a registry, similar to a dog license or fishing license. You fill out the form and send it in.

Civil Unions generally require some form of solemnization, similar to a marriage. Some official (be it a minister, judge, or county clerk) verifies that they have heard your vows and willing entry into the union.

L. Junius Brutus

December 2nd, 2010

How demeaning. I’m glad Illinois passed civil unions instead.


December 2nd, 2010

While this is SOME recognition, it is moot.

We are STILL not recognized by the Federal Government,…

Therefore we must file taxes seperately, we cannot transfer assets from one to another without taxation, we cannot inherit our spouses portion of the estate without taxation, we cannot collect on our spouses Social Security Benefits at all, etc, etc.

This is Financial Opression, and by our Federal Government, which is supposed to be upholding the Consitiution, giving “Equal Protection”, as the Highest Law. Currently it is not doing so.

Federal Recognition is THE Most Imoortant Hurdle.


December 2nd, 2010

I think you should color New York and Maryland too, and maybe Rhode Island — at least light gray. People can get married in a nearby state and have their relationships recognized back home. Reporters often leave those states out, and I find that a bit misleading.


December 2nd, 2010

So far, there hasn’t been a decisive ruling on the status of several marriages solemnized in New Mexico.


December 2nd, 2010

One more thing – a few courts in Texas have ruled that state’s marriage ban unconstitutional. That issue will be making its way through the courts for some time.


December 2nd, 2010

While you’re at it, you could color Canada and tint Mexico gray.


December 2nd, 2010

Technically, Colorado has “Designated Beneficiaries”. There aren’t any benefits until one of the two individuals is incapacitated or dead. Hooray for us!

Eric in Oakland

December 5th, 2010


I hate to contradict you, but your explanation of the difference between a Domestic Partnership and a Civil Union is simply wrong. The two terms are simply different phrases for the same thing. For some reason the term, Civil Union is the accepted term on the East Coast and Domestic Partnership is the preferred term on the West Coast. However, there is far more difference from state to state using the same term than there is between states using different terms. For instance, California and Washington both have Domestic Partnerships but the ones in California confer most of the rights of marriage on a state level, while the ones in Washington are much less inclusive.

Furthermore, when my partner and I registered in California we were required to do more than just mail in a form. We had to sign an application before a witness who could notarize it. The application was then submitted to the office of the Secretary of State. A dog license or fishing license does not require nearly that much hassle.

Also, at least in California, Domestic Partners are required to live together. Marriages do not require that. I am not sure about Civil Unions…

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