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Legal Relationship Defined

A domestic partnership is a legal or personal relationship between two individuals who live together and share a common domestic life but are neither joined by a traditional marriage nor a civil union. However, in some jurisdictions, such as New Zealand, Oregon, and California, domestic partnership is almost equivalent to marriage, or to other legally recognized same-sex or different-sex unions. The terminology for such unions is still evolving, and the exact level of rights and responsibilities conferred by a domestic partnership varies widely from place to place.


Some legislatures have voluntarily established domestic partnership relations by statute instead of being ordered to do so by a court. Although some jurisdictions have instituted domestic partnerships as a way to recognize same-sex unions, domestic partnerships may involve either different-sex or same-sex couples.


In some legal jurisdictions, domestic partners who live together for an extended period of time but are not legally entitled to common-law marriage may be entitled to legal protection in the form of a domestic partnership. Some domestic partners may enter into domestic partnership agreements in order to agree contractually to issues involving property ownership, support obligations, and similar issues common to marriage.



Civil unions are legal contracts between partners that are recognized by a state or government as conferring all or some of the rights conferred by marriage, but without the implicit historical and religious meaning associated with the word "marriage."

In the United States, some states have legalized civil unions as an option for same-sex couples who cannot legally marry.

Civil unions were once distinct from domestic partnerships, but the terms are now used more-or-less interchangeably.




Wikipedia: Domestic Partnership
Diff Between Marriage, Dom Partners, Civil Union
E How:Domestic Partner vs Marriage
About: Civil Unions
Wikipedia: Civil Unions
NOW: Civil Union vs Marriage
GLAD: Civil Union vs Marriage
Freedom to Marry

Let's Be Civil


Nations Permitting Same Sex Partnerships and Civil Unions


Croatia  -  Civil partnerships for same-sex couples have been granted since 2003.

Denmark  -  Legal civil partnerships have been allowed since 1989.

Finland  -  Has offered registered partnership benefits since September 2001.

France  -  Pacte Civil de Solidarité” (PACS), or “Civil Solidarity Pacts,” were instituted in France on November 9, 1999.

Germany  -  Gay couples can register as "Life Partnerships," granting equal the same financial and pension benefits as marriage.


Great Britain  -  Domestic partners can register under the Civil Partnership Act. This legislation took affect in December 5, 2005 giving registered same-sex couples rights similar to marriage in areas such as pensions, property, social security, and housing.

Hungary  -  Gay couples have been protected under common-law marriages since 1995; however they are not eligible for legal marriage.

Luxembourg  -  Civil partnership legislation modeled after France's PACS were introduced in Luxembourg in 2004.

New Zealand  -  In December, 2004, New Zealand enacted legislation recognizing same-sex civil unions.

Scotland  -  Civil partnerships have been afforded to same-sex couples since 2004.

Switzerland  -  Same-sex couples are given limited legal benefits with civil recognition.


New to the list:  Andorra, Austria, Brazil, Columbia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Greenland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Uruguay.


Same sex partnerships and civil unions recognized in some jurisdictions:  Australia, Mexico, Venezuala.


Domestic Partner Benefits for UAB Employees

January 2010


As of January 2010, domestic partners of UAB employees (faculty and staff) will receive the same benefits as heterosexual married couples.

The new policy will cover both dependent adult and sponsored dependent child insurances.

“Effective Oct.1, 2009, UAB faculty and staff were able to enroll eligible sponsored adult and child dependents in medical, dental and vision plans. The university made the decision to expand its benefit eligibility categories in the context of one of our strategic goals,” a UAB spokesperson said.

University president Carol Garrison said UAB is striving to maintain excellence in the fields of academics and research, but to do this the university had to modify employee benefits to attract a better pool of faculty applicants.

“We strive to create a positive, supportive and diverse work environment in which faculty and staff can excel. We believe this change will help us remain competitive from an employee recruiting standpoint,” the spokesperson said.


Other universities across the nation competing with UAB in many fields such as medicine have adopted similar policies to acquire faculty members.

“We were not able to offer the families of potential faculty, staff and researchers access to the same sorts of benefits packages comparable to those of our top NIH-funded medical school peer group, which includes Vanderbilt, Duke, Johns Hopkins and others.

Jade Delisle, director of “One Closed Door After Another,” a film that addresses the lack of availability of domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian employees at UAB has spent time talking to UAB faculty who cited personnel losses due to the old policy.

“A lot of people left for this reason,” Delisle said.

Delisle also notes that UAB is one of the top 20 universities on the list of the American Research Universities. Of the top 20 only three of them did not offer domestic partner benefits.

“UAB was one of those three universities,” she said. “UAB employees did not have access to the same healthcare for their partner and children even though they paid the same money.”

The plan outlines an eligible partner as someone who “shares a primary residence, not as a renter, tenant or employee, with the covered UAB employee, and has lived with UAB employee at least 12 months prior to effective date of coverage, is at least 19 years old, the age of majority in Alabama, is not a relative and is not married,” according to the university’s human resources benefits website.


Inside UAB: Domestic Partners Gain Equal Benefits
Film About UAB DP Benefits Shown at SHOUT Festival
I Love UAB: Same Sex Benefits Offered


The Laurel Hester Story

June 2007


Freeheld is the new Academy Award winning documentary by Cynthia Wade. The film tells Laurel Hester's story...


Detective Lieutenant Laurel Hester spent 25 years investigating tough cases in Ocean County, New Jersey, protecting the rights of victims and putting her life on the line. She had no reason to expect that in the last year of her life, after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, that her final battle for justice would be for the woman she loved.


The documentary film "Freeheld" chronicles Laurel's struggle to transfer her earned pension to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree. With less than six months to live, Laurel refuses to back down when her elected officials - the Ocean County Freeholders - deny her request to leave her pension to Stacie, an automatic option for heterosexual married couples. The film is structured chronologically, following both the escalation of Laurel's battle with the Freeholders and the decline of her health as cancer spreads to her brain.

As Laurel's plight intensifies, it spurs a media frenzy and a passionate advocacy campaign. At the same time, "Freeheld" captures a quieter, personal story: that of the deep love between Laurel and Stacie as they face the reality of losing each other. Alternating from packed public demonstrations at the county courthouse to quiet, tender moments of Laurel and Stacie at home, "Freeheld" combines tension-filled political drama with personal detail, creating a nuanced study of a grassroots fight for justice.





Freeheld Trailer on YouTube

Freeheld Documentary: Oscar Winner

Laurel Hester Thanking Garden State Equality

Freeheld Film by Cynthia Wade

Freeheld on IMDB

Freeheld Plot Summary on IMDB


Domestic Partner Resources


Wikipedia: Domestic Partnership

Carnegie Mellon: Info on Domestic Partnerships and Gay Marriage

Buddy Buddy: Partners Task Force (DP Benefits)

Stephen Hyland: LGBT Couples Law

State Lawyers: DP Definition
Free Dictionary: Domestic Partnership
Alternatives to Marriage Project
Lambda Legal

The Laurel Hester Story
The Reeler: Freeheld
YouTube: Freeheld Movie Trailer
Movie Database: Freeheld
Real Time News: Freeheld



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Association for Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama