On discrimination against Domestic Partners

Here are the documentation requirements to add Chaos as my domestic partner this year (increased from last year, so I have to submit all over again):

Three of the following documents that show financial interdependency for the immediate prior 12 month period:

  1. Joint ownership of real property or a common leasehold interest in real property;
  2. Significant joint asset, such as common ownership of an automobile;
  3. Joint bank account;
  4. A will which designates the other as a primary beneficiary;
  5. A beneficiary designation form for a retirement plan or life insurance policy signed and completed to the effect that one domestic partner is the primary beneficiary of the other;
  6. Registration of domestic partners, if residing in a state which provides such registration
  7. Health care powers of attorney for medical emergencies
  8. Tax return of the employee, which lists the domestic partner as a dependent

Note that this is in order to add him to my benefits, which include my life insurance policy, so he’s not already the beneficiary of that, and he doesn’t have a life insurance policy. Nor does he own my car. Also notice that even if we were registered domestic partners, we’d have to provide two other documents proving “financial interdependency”.

Here’s the requirements to add a spouse:

Copy of the Marriage Certificate, OR Copy of recent Federal tax return, if filing jointly (first page only), OR Copy of recent Federal tax return for both, if filing separately (first page only)

And a common-law spouse:

Documents demonstrating fulfillment of state requirements for common law marriage (varies by state) OR A copy of recent Federal tax return (first page only) showing spouse as a dependent.

Domestic partner is a category that can apply to same or opposite gender partner, explicitly listed in the description, but honestly, tell me this isn’t about “teh gayz” “cheating the system”when if the state recognizes your living arrangement as a common-law marriage, that’s fine, but if it’s only a domestic partnership, well, you need extra proof.

There’s one city in my state that recognizes domestic partnerships. Their requirements are about what I remember last year’s insurance requirements being:

Domestic partnerships within Cleveland Heights must meet the following criteria:

Partners must share a residence and agree to a relationship of mutual interdependence.

Partners must not be married to a third individual or in a civil union or domestic partnership with a third individual.

Partners must be at least 18 years of age.

Partners must not be related by blood in a way that would prevent them from marrying under Ohio law.

Partners must sign the Declaration of Domestic Partnership.

That’s easy enough to prove — we live together and intend to marry. In my county, here’s what’s needed to obtain a marriage license:

What to bring to the Clerk’s Office:
Both the bride and groom must appear in person
Bring government issued photo ID
$50 for the license

That’s it. State law says I do have to not already be married and be over 16, but they don’t require documentation of that unless they a previous recorded marriage, in which case you need to bring a death certificate or divorce decree. Then I just have to have someone willing to perform whatever ceremony they deem fit and file for a certificate. Hey presto, he qualifies as my dependent forever and for always, even if we move to different states and don’t share anything financial in common ever, until divorce do us part. I could go to Vegas and do it right now.

Instead I’ll be digging up a copy of our lease, pestering the bank for records, and talking to a lawyer about whether it’s easier to give him power of attorney or make a will (we don’t own each others cars and I don’t believe I listed him as a dependent on my last tax return)



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3 Responses to On discrimination against Domestic Partners

  1. Firedrake says:

    As I understand it, this sort of stuff is mostly a holdover from the days when divorce was rare and difficult. So having got married was a sign of, at least, serious administrative commitment to a specific other individual. Bureaucrats being lazy, they want to make sure that the person you point your insurance at now isn’t likely to change next month…

    … which is of course obsolete even purely looking at marriage, but this sort of thing – and hospital visiting privileges – are among the less-romantic reasons to get married now.

    • yamikuronue says:

      Honestly, the bigger picture version — that of desiring to be recognized by society as a “legitimate couple” — is why I wanted to get engaged in the first place. I would be perfectly fine keeping our relationship exactly the way it is, and the prospect of holding a wedding scares me shitless, but I desperately crave to be looked at as more than just “the girlfriend”, disposable and meaningless. We both know neither of us are disposable to the other person; I want other people to know it too. I thought engagement might help, and it has, but it’s not the same.

      And I keep thinking, surely this is how gay people feel? If I was partnered with a woman, there would BE no next step, nothing to prove we’re committed to each other. There’d always be this expectation that she’d be my fling of the week rather than my lifelong love, that I’d be open to swinging because that’s what lesbians do, right? And it’s not fair that since, purely by chance, I ended up with a man instead of a woman so I’m allowed to be legitimized. It’s not even fair that he’s considered disposable up until he’s considered the single most important person in my entire life (and even, in a lot of ways, more important than I am). It’s not fair that accepting the in-between step of a long engagement means being discriminated against, and it’s not fair that people who can’t or won’t get married are discriminated against, and it’s just not fair in general.

      Besides, they’ve already detailed the handful of “approved life events” that allow me to change my insurance. Shy of dying, getting married, a partner dying, changing a job, or having a baby, I’m stuck with my choices until next year.

  2. Firedrake says:

    Absolutely, agreed.

    What puzzles me about the UK is why anyone thought that the “separate-but-equal” civil-partnership model would satisfy anybody.

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