HRC Talking Points on DC Domestic Partnership Program

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Washington, DC 20006
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In 1992, the District of Columbia City Council passed the Health Care Benefits Expansion Act. This Act was signed by Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly and became law after the Congressional review period. The D.C. Health Care Benefits Expansion Act of 1992 has three main components:

This Act defines "domestic partner" as: a person with whom an individual shares a familial relationship characterized by mutual caring and the sharing of a mutual residence. Both parties of a domestic partnership must be at least 18 years of age and competent to contract, must not be married, and must have only one domestic partner. This definition encompasses many familial relationships, such as a grandmother and mother living together raising children, a person with a disability and their live-in care provider, and unmarried partners, both heterosexual and gay and lesbian, including seniors who may not be able to marry for economic reasons.

Each year since 1992, Congress has added a rider to the District of Columbia appropriations bill that prohibits the use of Federal or local funds to implement the DC Health Care Benefits Expansion Act, even though it is an extremely limited version of what over one hundred jurisdictions across the country have implemented:

SEC. 124 of the FY 2001 DC Appropriations bill

None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to implement or enforce the Health Care Benefits Expansion Act of 1992 (D.C. Law 9-114; D.C. Code, sec. 36-1401 et seq.) or to otherwise implement or enforce any system of registration of unmarried, cohabiting couples (whether homosexual, heterosexual, or lesbian), including but not limited to registration for the purpose of extending employment, health, or governmental benefits to such couples on the same basis that such benefits are extended to legally married couples.

It is time to remove this anti-local control and anti-public health rider from the District of Columbia appropriations bill and allow implementation of the Health Care Benefits Expansion Act of 1992:

The Health Care Benefits Expansion Act of 1992 is a common-sense limited law that costs the District little to implement. Congress should respect local control in this area, as it has for so many other cities, and allow the District to use local funds to implement this law.