In a strange way, the idea of a domestic partnership seems a bit old-fashioned nowadays. The push for same-sex marriage in Minnesota long ago eclipsed what early advocates for same-sex relationships saw as the thin end of the wedge, a small step toward full equality.
What we may forget is that domestic partnerships are still an option for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples in Minneapolis. While domestic partnerships do not afford the broad protections and responsibilities of marriage. First, the basis for both is contract law. Second, each requires some government paperwork.
The contract law principles come in with the city's explanation of who may enter into a domestic partnership. Two adults, regardless of the gender of the partners, may register as domestic partners if they are not blood relatives, if they are unmarried and have no other domestic partner, and if they have the capacity to enter into binding contracts. The city also requires that domestic partners be more than roommates: They must be "jointly responsible to each other for the necessities of life" as well as committed to one another as if they were married.
Because a city ordinance governs domestic partnerships, partners must register at Minneapolis City Hall. There is a $20 fee. State law governs marriage, but the counties manage marriage licenses. The fee is either $115 or $40, depending on whether the couple has completed premarital counseling. And, just as Minnesota recognizes marriages legally performed in another state or country, Minneapolis recognizes domestic partnerships registered elsewhere.
There are specific benefits of registration, of course. We will cover those and how to end a domestic partnership in a future post.
Source: Minneapolis, Minnesota, Code of Ordinances, Title 7 - Civil Rights, Chapter 142. Civil Rights And Domestic Partnerships