What is domestic partnership?
Although it is a term used in many contexts, “domestic partnership” most often means a status which recognizes an unmarried couple and their children as a family for certain limited purposes. This recognition may be given by a state or municipal governmental entity or by private businesses and organizations.
In the workplace context, employers may set criteria for domestic partnership as a way for employees to obtain certain fringe benefits for their partners and families which were previously limited to married spouses. The State of Rhode Island, some Rhode Island cities and towns and many private employers in Rhode Island offer domestic partner benefits such as coverage for the partner and his/her children under the employee’s health plan.
In other contexts, “domestic partner” is also a shorthand term for family, replacing “lover,” “friend,” and “roommate.” Some people call cohabitation agreements “domestic partner agreements.” See GLAD’s publications on Domestic Partnership for further information at https://www.glad.org/rights/publications/c/relationships/.