Two persons engaged in a commitment (generally, a civil union) that is legally equivalent to marriage. Individuals generally decide to enter into domestic partnership because they wish to avoid marriage or because they are barred from marriage. Entering into civil union allows such individuals to obtain benefits and protections that are identical to or that resemble those available to married couples.
Domestic partnerships have become less common after the Supreme Court’s ruling in the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) that same-sex marriage is a constitutionally guaranteed right.
[Last updated in July of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]