A domestic partnership is a legal union between two people that is similar to marriage except that the two people are either not religious and chose not to have a marriage arrangement or the couple is of the same sex and same-sex marriage is illegal in their state. The laws vary from state to state, but Illinois is one of the states that has domestic partnership legal benefits so that domestic partners can have some of the same rights as married couples.
Illinois offers health, dental and vision insurance benefits of one member of a domestic partnership to also apply to the other member much in the same way as married couples can be covered by the same policy. To be eligible, both members of the domestic partnership must be over the age of 18 and not in another domestic partnership. They must live in the same household, not be related, and have "an emotional and economic interdependence." They need to have lived together for at least one year and continue to so for the duration of the insurance coverage.
Illness and Death Benefits
Illinois domestic partnerships are also intended to mimic marriage in the rights given to the partner in the event of death or illness. If a partner gets sick, the other partner may take paid sick leave to care for him. That partner would also be able to receive updates from the medical staff and be informed of what would otherwise be confidential medical information. Likewise, if a partner dies, the other may take bereavement leave just like a married spouse is entitled to. Domestic partners can also be listed as beneficiaries.
Public Recognition of Union
Members of a domestic partnership can also register a public record of their union to the state, and this can be used as proof of the length of their partnership when filing for insurance and other benefits. The registration costs the same as a marriage license and remains on record at the city clerk's office. Once registered, the state officially recognizes the status of the domestic partnership in much the same way as it would a marriage.