State Laws and Legislation

D.C. Marriage/Relationship Recognition Law

Licenses marriages for same-sex couples? Yes.
The Religious Freedom & Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009 was signed into law on Dec. 15, 2009 by Mayor Adrian Fenty. The 30-day congressional review period for laws enacted by the District government ended on March 3, 2010. Marriage application fees are waived for couples who are already domestic partners under D.C. law.

Honors marriages of same-sex couples from other jurisdictions? Yes.
On May 5, 2009, the D.C. Council voted 12-1 to approve legislation providing in relevant part that “[a] marriage legally entered into in another jurisdiction between 2 persons of the same sex…shall be recognized in the District.” Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the legislation May 6, 2009 and, following a required Congressional review period, the bill became effective July 7, 2009.

Any form of statewide relationship recognition for same-sex couples? Yes.
In 1992, the District of Columbia City Council passed a law that allows unmarried couples to register as domestic partners and receive certain rights and responsibilities. Congress prevented this law from becoming effective for 10 years, but in 2002, it finally took effect. Since that time, additional rights and responsibilities have been added, so that registered domestic partners now receive all the rights and responsibilities provided to spouses under D.C. law. Domestic Partnerships remain available for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples who do not wish to be married.

Citations: D.C. Code §1-307.68; §1-612.31, 32(b); §3-413; §16-1001; §5-113.31, 33; §21-2210; §32-501, 701, 704, 705(a), 705(b), 705(c), 705(d), 706; §42-1102, 3404.02(b)(c), 3651.05(c)(3); §47-858.03; §47-902; §50-1501.02(e)(4) and various other section of the D.C. Code; B18-0010, A18-0070 (Jury and Marriage Amendment Act of 2009).

District of Columbia Domestic Partners
After a 10-year battle, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed a law July 8, 2002, that established a domestic partner registry for unmarried couples and extended benefits to district government employees and their domestic partners, including health insurance coverage.

To take advantage of the benefits, a couple must first register their domestic partnership with the District of Columbia Department of Health before completing the relevant affidavit from the Office of Tax and Revenue Recorder of Deeds.

Applicants must:

  • be 18 years old or older;
  • be unmarried;
  • share a permanent residence;
  • be competent to enter into a domestic partnership; and
  • not be in another domestic partnership.

To register as domestic partners, both partners must go in person to the District of Columbia Department of Health, Vital Records Division, at 825 North Capitol St., N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002.

To establish proof of your shared residence, bring one of the following documents:

  • a current residential lease or rental agreement naming both applicants as occupants;
  • a current residential mortgage that names both applicants as mortgagors;
  • a deed for residential property stating that both applicants share title to the premises;
  • a current residential property utility bill naming both partners; or
  • an affidavit executed within the previous six months in which both parties state, under penalty of perjury, that they share the same residence.

The fee is $45.

Learn more at the District of Columbia Department of Health website.

Updated: Tue, March 02, 2010 - 12:00:41