Gay Marriage

Enter Gay Marriage; Exit Domestic Partnerships

If You Like It (and Your Benefits) Then You Better Put a Ring on It.


I still contend this video makes it look like Beyonce has married Dr. Doom.

Yes, same-sex marriage recognition is officially the law of the land, but a Supreme Court ruling doesn't magically wipe state laws off the books. Several states still have laws in place banning same-sex recognition, even if they are no longer enforceable. Maybe they'll get around to erasing them eventually. It took South Carolina until 1998 and Alabama until 2000 to formally end their bans on interracial marriage (though obviously they were not enforcing the law).

In the meantime, the IRS has announced it will recognize same-sex marriages in all 50 states regardless of what the law says. NBC reports that the decision will cover "any federal tax provision in which marriage is a factor — including filing status, personal and dependency exemptions and standard deductions." It also means employer-offered health coverage will be tax-free for same-sex spouses.

But now that same-sex marriage is recognized by the government, we're seeing the end of the duct-taped workaround—the domestic partnership. Also this week, the State Department announced that it will begin phasing out its domestic partnership program. It's going to be gone by September, 2018. Anybody employed by the State Department who wants to keep his or her partner's benefits needs to make it "official" by then.

This could be a bit of a challenge for some State Department employees, who are scattered all across the world. Most countries still don't recognize same-sex marriage. Some work in countries where homosexuality is illegal and they're concerned about potential legal consequences of entering into an actual marriage. The State Department's organization that represents gay employees is objecting to the shift.

We're seeing more governments and colleges ending these domestic partnerships and requiring marriages to access benefits. But not all are taking this route. Broward County in Florida has decided to keep its domestic partner program, which permits both same-sex and opposite-sex couples to participate, acknowledging that some couples don't get married for reasons other than legal bans but nevertheless want to be treated as though they're a family.

Do domestic partnerships still have value if marriage becomes blind to the sexes of the members of the couple? Is there a value in some sort of "marriage lite" that allows couples to define families to the state, be treated like families by the state, but avoid the full legal entanglements of a marriage contract by the voluntary decision of the couple (and not because the state gives them no other options)?

NEXT: A.M. Links: Carson Beats Trump in Iowa Poll, Mets Beat Cubs to Advance to World Series, Hillary Testifies Before Benghazi Committee

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. It only has value if it is called “marriage” and can be used to forcefully violate the freedom of association of anyone who doesn’t like it. Anything else has absolutely no value at all.

    1. That is indeed what most people those who favor “traditional” marriage and supporters of same-sex marriage seem to believe.

    2. I liked the term “domestic partnership” because it made clear what the government’s proposed interest was: encouraging partnerships for sharing of wealth and resources. I don’t think it should be their interest, but at least the term was clinical. “Marriage” carries connotations of romance and relations that are private and social. I’m more comfortable with the government encouraging efficiency than love.

  2. I was wondering how long this would take.

    As things currently stand, I bet a lot of company “domestic partner” policies discriminate against heteros, by making it available only to gays.

    1. That was the case with the company I work for. I had a big fight with HR over it (and then the head of HR got fired and I laughed). When I got hired, they must have assumed I was gay when I said I was in a committed relationship but not married and they said that I could get benefits for my now wife.

  3. Cue the concern troll brigade to accuse sarcasmic of being an intolerant bigot, because fuck everybody who doesn’t proffer enthusiastic, ongoing approval of gay marriage.

    1. Sorry, the concern troll brigade is currently engaged in another thread. We’ve had to deploy the non sequitur SEALs to point out that sarcasmic’s comment has uh nothing to do with anything.

      1. I’ve got a tu quoque Ranger Tab.

        1. *narrows gaze*

  4. Anything that gets people to hate government more is a win in my book.

    1. Including government?!?

  5. We can either fight them over there or fight them over here, cosmofagians!

    1. Can’t we just go out for brunch instead?

      1. Brunch, the most terrorist of meals. There will be 72 mimosas waiting for me in paradise!

        1. Man, that hangover would be the worst.

          1. They’re virgin mimosas!

            [ow. my pancreas.]

            1. Until they’re deflowered, then they become Bloody Marys.

    2. Why is it always either/or with you? Why can’t we fight them everywhere? More Jobs!!!

      1. Shades of grey are for gays and housewives and gay househusbands!

  6. I just want to comment on the alt-text, which refers to Beyonc? marrying Dr. Doom.

    Hey, her mother always wanted her to marry a doctor!

    1. At least then Beyonce would be married to a rapper with talent.

  7. I guess this is another of those cases where one asks if it’s better to have bad laws that screw people unevenly or bad laws that screw everyone equally. But before and after gay marriage, single people are the ones getting the worst and most unfair treatment. If a married person can get tax free benefits for a spouse and dependents, why shouldn’t everyone get tax-free benefits for a few extra people (or at least give employers that option)? I think the small changes happening here because of gay marriage are nothing compared to that bit of iniquity. Single people face serious disparate treatment and employers don’t have the option to treat them equally even if they want to.

    1. Not just single people, but people who simply refuse to entangle the state in their relationships.

      My employer has offered domestic partner benefits for a long time, and they were available to anyone who could show they shared a lease (or, presumably, title to a home), i.e., no government entanglement involved whatsoever. I don’t know if that is going to change, but I assume it will. I am not “single,” but I will not be registering any relationships with the state. If that becomes a requirement…

      The real victory of gay marriage was a victory for the state, gathering more people into the self-sustaining prison-society of the bourgeoisie.

      1. “The real victory of gay marriage was a victory for the state, gathering more people into the self-sustaining prison-society of the bourgeoisie.”

        So maybe there’s a bright side?

        1. For anyone who wanted to de-radicalize a minority population, clearly the answer is yes.

          For anyone who wanted to smash the state, not so much.

      2. Of course the state is going to progressively make it more and more painful to not register your relationship with it. Because it gives it more control.

        1. Yes, the true gay marriage tipping point was simply in the state realizing it could control more people by having gay marriage than by not having it.

      3. I don’t know why they should even care if the benefits are for someone who lives with you. Does it cost them more if it isn’t? I guess as long as it’s the employer’s decision, it’s none of my business.

        I must admit that I did roll over and involve the state in my business for the sake of health insurance.

        1. Well, since the benefits involve tax-free health insurance, I assume it is a matter of state-level legality. So it is not 100% the employer’s decision.

        2. Good, good, caress the serpent that devours you.

          1. Well, it’s no worse than getting a drivers license or a passport. And I pretty much need those.

    2. why shouldn’t everyone get tax-free benefits for a few extra people

      Because that’s not the kind of social engineering the government is interested in.

    3. Look dude, if you want the treat you’ll jump through the hoops like a good trained poodle.

  8. I bought brand new BMW by working ONline work. Six month ago i hear from my friend that she is working some online job and making more then 98$/hr i can’t beleive. But when i start this job i have to beleived her

    ??????? —— http://www.HomeJobs90.Com

  9. Anybody employed by the State Department who wants to keep his or her partner’s benefits needs to make it “official” by then.

    Huh, only 12 comments? Does anyone not see this as explosive as I do, because a ‘domestic partnership’ didn’t cover just gay people, it covered everyone.

    1. Look, Paul, if homosexuals are involved at all it’s clearly a bullshit issue.

      1. After I posted this, I saw your post above @1205. I completely agree with your sentiment.

        What’s also interesting to me, is in California, domestic partnerships registered with the state were subject to all the niceties of divorce- as some discovered after the fact.

        Oakland attorney Frederick Hertz, author of Living Together: A Legal Guide for Unmarried Couples, says he’s fielded many calls from people upset and surprised that they have to go to court to break up. Same-sex couples are often caught off guard, he says, because there’s no culture of divorce in the gay and lesbian world, and it never occurs to them that they might have to, gulp, pay alimony.

        1. The real lesson, as always, is that lawyers always win.

        2. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

          1. Oh yeah, HA! And here’s my favorite:

            One divorce case in Alameda County Superior Court illustrates that very point. In that case, a lesbian couple living in Piedmont registered in August 2000 and broke up fifteen months later without formally terminating their partnership. One partner, a financial adviser, moved to Oklahoma, while the other, a Mills College student, stayed in the East Bay.

            Out of the blue one day in May 2005, the East Bay woman wrote to her ex saying that they’d never terminated their domestic partnership and now would have to do it in court. The Oklahoma woman had never received notice from the secretary of state. In fact, she didn’t even remember they’d registered as domestic partners, court papers say.

            After receiving the letter from her ex, the Oklahoma woman promptly filed for divorce to comply with the new rules. Once she did, the local woman demanded spousal support and a share of the proceeds from the sale of their million-dollar Piedmont home years earlier.

          2. “You know there was a time where I would’ve helped you raise this little dumpster baby brother of mine like a son, but that’s gone now ’cause you ruined it! You threw your babies away! And you threw your swords away! You threw your golf clubs and your tasty treats. And you know what? I found them. And I’m gonna raise all of them!”

          3. I have a very mixed bag with long term social and political predictions, but I’ll predict again, just watch, divorce rules will be getting an overhaul in the next decade or so, now that gay marriage is the law of the land. Especially once enough politically active gay people are… exposed to the “culture of divorce”.

            I see it as a good thing.

    2. I think it varies. At my company it covers everyone. I think in my state it covers everyone. But maybe at State it only covered gays as a substitute for marriage?

      1. Not that I know of. If I’m correct, the entire ‘domestic partnership’ thing was designed to not be exclusive to same-sex. The intention was to cover gays and give them the same rights (and pains) of divorce and benefits that straight marriages enjoyed. But because the language covered anyone in a ‘long term relationship’, it was considered a coup by the left because now you could get your pensions and benefits extended to ‘domestic partners’ which was seen as a lower bar than marriage.

    3. “Domestic partnership” did not cover everyone, as I found out. Maybe in some states and for some employers. But certainly not all.

      1. Maybe we’re talking at cross-purposes… maybe not. Are you saying domestic partnerships had language that only covered same sex relationships?

        1. At least as far as my employer was concerned they did. And not all states have legal definitions of domestic partnership. Of course, I was silly enough to assume that “domestic partnership” means something like the plain meaning of the words.

          1. There you go using logic and basic English. Show off that privilege some more why don’t you!

      2. Looks like a mixed bag:

        There are vast differences in these state laws. Some make alternatives to marriage available to same-sex couples only. Others permit them for heterosexual couples as well, while others grant the options only to opposite-sex couples who are 62 or over (Social Security has its own marriage penalties for some people who are divorced or married couples getting SSI).

        And some states, such as California, require domestic partners to file jointly for state tax purposes even if they file separately on their federal 1040s.…..x-penalty/

  10. I am glad that none of you have written “put a ring on what, exactly, Scott?” That would be an infantile attempt at humor, and I am glad to see the commentariats are above that.

    1. Tentacle. Oh, wait. That’s only in Japan.

  11. the State Department announced that it will begin phasing out its domestic partnership program.

    Ah, I see… A stimulus program for justices of the peace, licensed reverends and divorce lawyers.

  12. BTW, can I register the Federal Government as my ‘domestic partner’… and can I dissolve that relationship?

    1. Well, you can claim yourself as a dependent.

      1. And they say you have no sense of humour! Well played.

  13. “We were domestic partners who shared legal benefits but I still don’t want her to take 1/2 my stuff when we break up.”


    These people are going to find themselves common law married.

  14. My opinion is domestic partnerships for everyone are a good idea! A domestic partnership avoids the legal discrimination for Social Security and they still get the income tax breaks.

    Retirement for these folks would be much nicer with both members collecting their share of Social security since these days couples of all types are each working and are each putting in their share of Social Security taxes.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.