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Domestic Partner Benefits
National Summary
What is a domestic partnership? The term "domestic partnership" generally refers to an unmarried couple, either of the same or opposite sex. Following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2015, all states must license same-sex marriages and recognize same-sex marriages entered into legally out of state. Some states permit civil unions or domestic partnerships for same-sex or opposite-sex couples. An employer's policy decisions regarding these relationships will be shaped by state and federal laws, business needs, and a desire for an inclusive corporate culture. Policy decisions most often arise in the context of extending existing health insurance and other benefits to civil union partners or domestic partners.
Although benefits may not be required by law, many employers voluntarily offer benefits such as family and medical leave covering civil union partners and domestic partners. There are a number of legal ramifications, including tax issues, to consider if an organization intends to offer benefits to domestic partners.
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