Healthcare Equality Index: Patient Self-Identification & State-Registered Partnerships

Patients in same-sex partnerships often feel unseen by a healthcare organization when the only options explicitly provided for recording relationship status in heath records are “single, married, separated, divorced, widowed.” Providing explicit options for same-sex partnerships signals an organization’s awareness of same-sex-partnered patients and allows them to indicate their true relationship status. Explicit options allowing same-sex couples to self-identify include:

  • Same-sex partner
  • Partner
  • Same-sex domestic partner
  • Domestic partner
  • Significant other

These options should be expanded in states that give unmarried same-sex partners the opportunity to register their relationships with the state. Since these state-registered relationships (which are sometimes available to different-sex couples, as well) often confer healthcare rights, it is critical that healthcare organizations in these states offer the explicit option “state-registered partner” in health records.

States that Register Same-Sex Partnerships

  • Registration provides equivalent of state-level spousal rights:
    • California (domestic partnerships)
    • Delaware (civil unions)
    • Hawaii (civil unions)
    • Illinois (civil unions)
    • Nevada (domestic partnerships)
    • New Jersey (civil unions)
    • Oregon (domestic partnerships)
    • Rhode Island (civil unions)
    • Washington (domestic partnerships)
  • Registration provides some statewide spousal rights:
    • Colorado (designated beneficiaries)
    • Maine (domestic partnerships)
    • Wisconsin (domestic partnerships)

HRC Map of State Relationship Recognition Laws [PDF]