Same-sex marriage is fully legal and recognized in the state of Minnesota and has been since August 1, 2013. Same-sex marriages have been recognized if performed in other jurisdictions since July 1, 2013. Even though Minnesota permits marriage between two people regardless of their sex, some couples prefer not to marry and prefer to register as domestic partners.
Then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed a measure to allow state-wide domestic partnerships in Minnesota in 2008. The legislation would have allowed partners of state, federal, and city employees to access the same kind of benefits usually reserved for married couples. But the veto didn't prohibit individual cities from approving ordinances for their own domestic partner registry.
"Domestic partners" can mean any couple, including same-sex and heterosexual couples. The aim of domestic partnerships is to extend various benefits to any two adults in an exclusive committed relationship.
Domestic Partner Benefits
The benefits of being domestic partners can include access to health care and life insurance in the same way as a married couple. Benefits available through an employer are provided on a voluntary basis and vary from employer to employer. Hospital visitation rights are also possible. The exact nature of the benefits provided can vary between cities.
Now that marriage between same-sex couples is legal in Minnesota, many employers are expecting that a committed couple will marry and are adjusting their employee benefits eligibility criteria accordingly. Some employers gave employees a "grace period" to make the decision once same-sex marriage was legalized. Others continue to offer benefits to domestic partners.
The qualifications to apply for domestic partners can vary, too. Generally. at least one of the applicants must live in or be employed in that city. The domestic partners must be over 18, they can't be closely related by blood, and can't have any other domestic partners. There are also conditions related to the commitment between the partners, and that is often phrased like this: "... are committed to one another to the same extent as married persons are to each other, except for the traditional marital status and solemnities" and "are jointly responsible to each other for the necessities of life."
Cities With Domestic Partner Registries
Minneapolis passed the first domestic partner registry ordinance in Minnesota in 1991. As of 2018, these cites in Minnesota have a domestic partner registry:
- Eden Prarie
- Falcon Heights
- Golden Valley
- Red Wing
- St. Louis Park
- St. Paul