Domestic Partnerships for Same-Sex Couples in Oregon
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Types of Partnerships for Same-Sex Couples in the U.S.
In the U.S., family law is governed almost exclusively by individual states. This includes the decision to recognize same-sex marriage, to provide some alternative legal union for same-sex couples, or to provide no recognition at all.
A number of states currently recognize and perform marriages between partners of the same sex. Some other states may not formally recognize marriage, but do recognize alternative legal unions for same-sex couples, that tend to offer most (or in some cases, all) of the rights and responsibilities associated with marriage. These legal unions are often referred to as “domestic partnership” or “civil union.”
Domestic Partnerships in Oregon
Since 2008, Oregon has offered domestic partnerships, which provide the same legal rights and responsibilities associated with marriage.
These rights include:
- The right to automatically inherit property from a partner if he or she dies without a will, in the same manner as a spouse
- The right to visit a partner in the hospital
- The right to sue for the wrongful death of a partner
- The right to file joint state and federal tax returns
- The same testimonial privileges that married couples enjoy
To enter a domestic partnership in Oregon, the partners must be:
- The same sex
- At least 18 years old and of sound mind
- Neither partner can be married or in a domestic partnership with another living person
- Not be first cousins or any closer blood relationship
As of October 2013, Oregon started to permit same-sex marriages.
Federal Law Concerning Same-Sex Couples
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law passed by Congress in 1996, prohibited the federal government from recognizing any legal union for same-sex couples, even if they are valid in an individual state. This affected federal benefits like social security, veteran’s benefits, and spousal benefits for federal employees.
In 2013, the Supreme Court overturned certain provisions of DOMA. In doing so, the federal government was enabled to offer benefits and protections to validly married same-sex couples. However, the fact that DOMA was repealed does not force any state to recognize same-sex marriage.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
The legal situation involving same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships is continuously evolving and complex. If you or your partner are considering a legal union, you should consider contacting an experienced family law attorney in Oregon.
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Last Modified: 06-19-2014 11:57 AM PDT
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