Domestic Partnerships & Same-Sex Marriages

Same-sex marriages can be legally solemnized under New York State law and a same-sex marriage that was legally solemnized in another jurisdiction will often be recognized as a legal marriage in New York. Consequently, same-sex couples who were legally married in New York or another jurisdiction and who meet New York residency requirements can obtain a divorce in New York based on New York divorce laws.

“Domestic partners” are defined in New York as people who have registered as domestic partners in a locality or another state, a person who is a beneficiary of another person’s employment benefits or health insurance, or two people who, based on a totality of the circumstances, are mutually interdependent on each other for support. It is not necessary to be legally married in another jurisdiction in order to register as domestic partners.

New York State does not maintain a statewide domestic partner registry. However, various individual municipalities, including the city of Rochester, allow for local domestic partnership registration and provide domestic partner health benefits to public-sector employees. All New York State employees receive domestic partner benefits, and various private-sector institutions also recognize domestic partnerships, usually by granting employee benefits such as health insurance, bereavement and other kinds of leave. The value of these benefits, however, is often considered income to same-sex couples and therefore may be subject to state and federal tax, unlike similar benefits for spouses, which are typically exempt from taxation.

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