Issues: Relationship Recognition

NCLR’s work for full, fair, and equal legal recognition of our relationships gets to the heart of what we do. Whether it is a committed parent unable to seek joint custody of a child, a surviving partner unable to inherit or to make funeral arrangements, or one partner prohibited from making a pivotal medical decision on the other’s behalf, LGBT partners continue to be denied basic rights and protections most Americans take for granted. NCLR is working across the country to defend and establish these basic protections for our families both by working for full marriage equality and by demanding dignity and fairness for domestic partners and other unmarried couples.

The law should recognize and protect existing family bonds for all types of families, regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of the partners. For more than thirty years, NCLR has been at the forefront of efforts to protect our relationships and to help LGBT people gain the information and resources they need to protect their legal rights. The legal status of our relationships is constantly shifting. NCLR is hard at work addressing the ever-evolving legal challenges our families and relationships face, creating innovative legal protections whenever and however possible. And through our Family Protection Project, we’re working to make sure that everyone has access to these protections, regardless of economic status.

news & opinion

Press Release

California Court of Appeal Rules for Same-Sex Partner in Inheritance Dispute
Court Recognizes New Legal Claim for Unmarried Partners Intentionally Deprived of Expected Inheritance
5.4.12—Yesterday, the California Court of Appeal established an important new legal protection for unmarried partners who are wrongfully prevented from inheriting property from each other when one partner dies.

Press Release

NCLR Applauds California Ruling Recognizing Same-Sex Parent of Adopted Children as a Legal Parent
12.13.11—The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) applauds the California Court of Appeal decision confirming that when a same-sex couple raises a child together who was legally adopted by only one of the partners, both parents should be recognized under California law. NCLR submitted an amicus brief to the Court of Appeal in the case supporting recognition of both parents.


NCLR Responds to Proposition 8 Case Hearing
Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell
12.08.11—Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument about whether the courts should publicly release the video of the historic trial to overturn Proposition 8, the measure that stripped same-sex couples of the right to marry in California. The court also heard oral argument on Prop 8 supporters’ outrageous request to throw out the court decision striking down the initiative.


NCLR Responds to California Supreme Court Ruling in Proposition 8 Case
Statement by NCLR Federal Executive Director Kate Kendell
11.17.11—Today, the California Supreme Court issued a decision holding that California law empowers the sponsors of Proposition 8 to appeal the federal district court’s decision in Perry v. Brown finding Prop 8 unconstitutional, even though the state’s Attorney General and Governor both agree that the district court decision striking down Prop 8 should not be appealed.

from the docket

Pending (Colorado)

Demers v. Zupancic
Marilynn Zupancic and her former partner Dianne were together for 30 years and planned on spending the rest of their lives together. Although they could not legally marry in their home state of Colorado, Marilynn and Dianne were partners in every respect. Marilynn, a teacher, supported Dianne while she was in graduate school, and they took out a mortgage on their jointly-owned home so that Dianne could pay off her school loans. In 2007, their relationship ended.

Victory! (California)

Burrows v. ILWU
Marvin Burrows and his partner William Swenor were together for 51 years. Burrows and Swenor did everything within their power to demonstrate their commitment to each other and to provide for the surviving partner in the event of one partner's death, including registering as domestic partners. Swenor worked as a warehouse crew leader for more than 35 years. Throughout Swenor's employment, he was a member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and contributed to their pension plan.

Victory! (Colombia)

Colombia Diversa, Expediente No. D-6362, Corte Constitucional de Colombia
A group of Colombian human rights and LGBT organizations challenged their country’s marriage laws that excluded same-sex couples under the Colombia Constitution’s equal protection provision. NCLR filed an amicus brief along with the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Center for Health, Science and Public Policy at Brooklyn Law School, and the Center for the Study of Law & Culture at Columbia Law School. The Colombia Constitutional Court ruled on January 28, 2009 that same-sex couples must be granted the same legal rights and responsibilities as different-sex couples in common-law marriages.

publications & downloads

FAQ on Community Property and Federal Taxation

Visit the KKS Tax Associates, Inc. website

Lifelines: Documents to protect you and your family.

download pdf: English  Español
This publication contains information about essential documents that will help you protect yourself and your loved ones in the event of illness, disability, or death.

The California Domestic Partnership Law (AB 205): What it Means for You and Your Family (pdf)

This publication is a comprehensive guide to California's domestic partnership law, AB 205.

California Transgender Family Law (pdf)

A fact sheet for transgender spouses, partners, parents, and youth.

The California Insurance Equality Act (pdf)

How to use AB 2208 and what it means for you and your family.

Marriage, Domestic Partnerships, and Civil Unions (pdf)

An Overview of Relationship Recognition for Same-Sex Couples Within the United States



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