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In April 2004, the Maine Legislature passed a bill to establish Domestic Partnerships, providing many important rights akin to marriage for same-sex couples in that state. The law came into effect on July 30, 2004, putting Maine in the category of states that offer some legal recognition of same-sex relationships, but not marriage.
In 2000, the federal census  counted 37,881 unmarried-couple households in Maine; of these, 8.95%, or 3,394, were same-sex couples (44% male, 56% female). In contrast, the same census showed 272,152 married couples in the state. Total state population was 1,274,923.
Same-sex couples who register as domestic partners in Maine are considered each other's closest next of kin; can inherit all or part of the partner's estate if the partner dies without a will; can make funeral and burial arrangements; can be named a guardian or conservator if the partner becomes incapacitated; can be named a representative to administer a deceased partner’s estate; and can authorize organ and tissue donations from the deceased partner. The law also includes protection for same-sex partners under the state's domestic violence statutes.
To register as domestic partners in Maine, both parties must be mentally competent adults, must have been legally domiciled together in Maine for the preceding 12 months, must not be within prohibited degrees of consanguinity, and must not be married to, or in a domestic partnership with someone else. Opposite-sex couples who meet these requirements may also register as domestic partners; as of 2006, at least 24% of partnerships in the registry (17 of 70) were believed to be between opposite-sex partners.
Couples can register by sending a signed and notarized form to the Office of Vital Statistics in Augusta, along with a $35 fee (as of December 2006). Domestic partnerships in Maine are automatically terminated if one party marries someone else. They can also be terminated after 60 days by filing a declaration of mutual consent, signed by both parties; or by one party, after serving notice on the other party according to strict state guidelines.
British law recognizes Maine Domestic Partnerships as equivalent to civil partnerships under the laws of the United Kingdom. However, the American state of New Jersey recognizes Maine domestic partnerships as providing "notably fewer" rights than civil unions and thus equivalent only to domestic partnerships in New Jersey.
- ↑ http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/censr-5.pdf
- ↑ 2000 Census information on Gay and Lesbian Couples, by state
- ↑ Morgan, Kelly. "Domestic partnerships can be straight, too", Sun Journal, 2006-07-30. Retrieved on 2008-04-18.
- Same-sex marriage in the United States
- Same-sex marriage legislation in the United States
- Same-sex marriage in the United States by state
- Same-sex marriage in the United States public opinion
- Same-sex marriage status in the United States by state
- List of benefits of marriage in the United States
- Defense of Marriage Act
- Marriage Protection Act
- Defense of marriage amendment
- Federal Marriage Amendment
- Domestic partnerships in the United States
- Freedom to Marry Coalition
- History of civil marriage in the U.S.
LGBT and Queer studies