Partners Task Force for Gay & Lesbian Couples
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Registered Partnership
The Scandinavian Approach
Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden
© August 14, 2015, Demian


Registered Partnerships are a relatively recent phenomenon. They are not the same as legal marriage, however, they provide far more than just symbolic significance. Most of these Partnerships offer similar benefits to legal marriage. However, most (as yet) do not allow joint adoption. Nor are the state churches required to marry the couples, although many do so.

At least one partner must be a citizen of the issuing country. Only The Netherlands allows a “temporary resident” to apply.

Some of these countries (at least Denmark, Norway and Sweden) recognize each other’s partnership registration. The registrations generally are not recognized outside of these countries.

Scandinavian Countries offering Registered Partnerships
  • Denmark — Began registering same-sex couples in 1989. This country recognizes Registered Partnerships from Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden; non-Danes may register their same-sex partnership if they have lived in the country two years; adoption rights fully afforded to domestic partners as of July 1, 2010.

    Denmark passed legislation, on May 20, 1999, finally allowing Registered Partners to adopt each other’s children. While Denmark was the first nation in the world to establish Registered Partnerships, adopting children was withheld. The updated law, effective July 1st, 1999, still did not allow Registered Partners to adopt a child who was not their partner’s child. As of July 1, 2010, adoption rights were fully afforded to Denmark’s domestic partners, due to a law enacted on May 5, 2010.

    When Denmark offered legal marriage to same-sex couples, in 2012, it eliminated Registered Partnerships.

  • Finland — Officially began registering couples on March 8, 2002. Partners do not have the right to adopt each other’s children.

  • Greenland

  • Iceland — As of April 2000, same-sex couples may adopt each other’s biological children.
    Iceland replaced this law with full legal marriage on June 27, 2010.
          [See Iceland Offers Legal Marriage]

  • The Netherlands — Holland offers domestic partner status. It also offers full, legal marriage.
          [See Netherlands Offers Legal Marriage]

    By July 2000, before legal marriage was available, about 9,500 couples registered as domestic partners.

  • Norway — Began registering couples in 1993. It now instead offers full, legal marriage.
          [See Norway Offers Legal Marriage]

  • Sweden — Early in 2003, those registered as domestic partners may jointly adopt Swedish or foreign children. The law, enacted on June 5, 2002, also allows partners to adopt each other’s children. As of March 2003, of Sweden’s approximately 100 embassies, 21 are authorized to officiate at the registration of partnerships if one member of the couple is a Swedish citizen.

    On October 20, 2005, the highest body of authority in the Swedish Church, the Church Assembly, voted (160-81) to allow same-sex couples to have their registered partnership blessed in a special ceremony in the Swedish Church.

    Also, on October 20, 2005, it was announced by the Ministry of Justice that, starting from the spring of 2006, civil registrars may not refuse conducting partnership ceremonies for same-sex couples. Currently, civil registrars may refuse ceremonies. One fifth of Stockholm district’s 256 registrars are not registered to perform them. Those who refuse will lose their authorisation to perform marriage wedding ceremonies.

    On May 1, 2009, Sweden became the 7th country to offer full, legal marriage to same-sex couples. The law was enacted on April 1, 2009.
          [See Sweden Offers Legal Marriage]

    Because legal marriage is now available, Sweden no longer offers domestic partner registrations.

Registered Partnership were first offered by Denmark in 1989. Even though this is a simple legal document, when same-sex couples go to Copenhagen’s city hall they are asked to take the following vow — a vow which has strong ceremonial marriage overtones.

Denmark’s Registration Vow
As you have made an application to the Copenhagen city hall in order to get your partnership lawfully registered, your wish will now be fulfilled.

With this registration you will — with few exceptions — obtain the same social security as married people in Danish society.

Before performing the registration, the municipality wishes to remind you of the meaning and importance of the promise you are giving each other.

Registered partnership implies in general a pledge to live together in mutual affection, helpfulness and tolerance.

In recognition of this, the municipality expresses the wish that throughout your partnership, with all its changes, you will preserve the good intentions, to live together in a harmonious and meaningful fellowship.

I ask you (Name), do you take (Name) to be your lawful partner?

Likewise, I ask you (Name), do you take (Name) to be your lawful registered partner?

After you now solemnly declared your desire to enter into registered partnership with each other, I hereby ask you to sign.

Of these countries offering a domestic partnership status, only The Netherlands and Belgium also offer full, legal marriage for same-sex couples, as of November 2004.


Not a Model for Family Recognition in U.S.

This domestic partnership status does not work as a model for America, because implementing an equivalent legal status to marriage requires duplicating 150-to-350 laws in each state, and more than 1,138 laws on the federal level. [See U.S. Federal Laws for the Legally Married.] The whole idea is completely impractical.

Further, domestic partnerships are usually not recognized outside of the issuing state. Because of the lack of portability, they create a patchwork legal status as a couple moves or vacations.

While such contracts are an attempt to create equal treatment, they only reinforce a separate and totally unequal status, one we consider to be a manifestation of apartheid. [See Marrying Apartheid: The Failure of Domestic Partnership Status]








Governments that offer Full Legal Marriage
Nations

    Netherlands (2001)
    Belgium (2003)
    Canada (2005)
    Spain (2005)
    South Africa (2005)
    Norway (2009)
    Sweden (2009)
    Iceland (2010)
    Argentina (2010)
    Portugal (2010)
    Denmark (2012)
    France (2013)
    New Zealand (2013)
    Brazil (2013)
    Uruguay (2013)
    New Zealand (2013)
    United Kingdom
      (England, Wales, Scotland) (2013)
    Luxembourg (2014)
    Finland (2014)
    Ireland (2015)
    United States (2015)
    Colombia (2016)
    Germany (2017)
    Taiwan (2017)
    Malta (2017)
US States & Territories

    Massachusetts (2004)
    California (2008)
    Connecticut (2008)
    Iowa (2009)
    Vermont (2009)
    New Hampshire (2009)
    District of Columbia (2009)
    New York (2011)
    Maine (2012)
    Washington (2012)
    Maryland (2013)
    Rhode Island (2013)
    Delaware (2013)
    Minnesota (2013)
    Illinois (2013)
    Utah (2013)
    New Jersey (2013)
    Hawaii (2013)
    New Mexico (2013)
    Michigan (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
    Oregon (2014)
    Wisconsin (2014)
    

    Arkansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
    Pennsylvania (2014)
    Indiana (2014)
    Nevada (2014)
    Virginia (2014)
    Oklahoma (2014)
    Idaho (2014)
    West Virginia (2014)
    Alaska (2014)
    Arizona (2014)
    Wyoming (2014)
    Kansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
    Florida (2014)
    Colorado (2014)
    North Carolina (2014)
    South Carolina (2014)
    Montana (2014)
    Alabama (2015)
    U.S. Supreme Court (June 26, 2015):
      Ruling: All U.S. States must now
      allow same-sex couples the
      freedom of legal marriage.
Native American Tribes

    Coquille Tribe, Oregon (2009)
    Mashantucket Pequot, Connecticut (2011)
    Suquamish Tribe, Washington (2011)
    Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Washington (2013)
    Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Minnesota (2013)
    Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan (2013)
    Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Michigan (2013)
    Santa Ysabel Tribe, California (2013)
    Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, Washington (2013)
    Cheyenne, Oklahoma (2013)
    Arapaho, Oklahoma (2013)
    Leech Lake Tribal Court, Minnesota (2013)
    Puyallup Tribe, Washington (2914)
    Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming (2014)
    Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan, (2014)
    Colville Confederated Tribes, Washington (2014)
    Central Council of Tlingit, Alaska (2015)
    Haida Indian Tribes, Alaska (2015)

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