[HISTORY: Adopted by the Suffolk County Legislature 4-4-2006 by L.L. No. 26-2006 (Ch. 265 of the 1985 Code). Amendments noted where applicable. Uncodified sections of local laws amending these provisions are included at the end of this chapter.]
Human rights — See Ch. 528.
This Legislature hereby finds and determines that the American tradition of equal opportunity and the exercise of individual rights protects all citizens against discrimination.
This Legislature also finds that many couples who live together often have personal relationships and bonds that are as strong as, if not stronger than, married couples, and such couples nurture and care for one another in sickness and in health.
This Legislature hereby determines that the World Trade Center attack demonstrated the need to provide domestic partners in committed relationships with a means to legally establish that relationship because there are numerous situations in which one partner is injured or killed and the remaining partner has been denied the ability to collect insurance, reside in the partnership's residence, claim next-of-kin benefits, or even to visit his or her hospitalized partner.
Therefore, the purpose of this chapter is to establish a Suffolk County registry for domestic partners of County residents and/or employees, be they heterosexual or of the same sex.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- AFFIDAVIT OF DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP
- An affidavit prepared by the office of the County Clerk in accordance with rules adopted by the County Clerk.
- DOMESTIC PARTNERS
- Persons who have a registered domestic partnership, including any partnership registered pursuant to this chapter.
- REGISTRY OF DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIPS
- The registry maintained by the County Clerk pursuant to this chapter, including all domestic partnerships registered.
Domestic partnership registration. A domestic partnership may be registered by two people who meet all of the following conditions:
Either both persons are residents of Suffolk County or at least one partner is employed by the County of Suffolk on the date of registration;
Both persons are 18 years of age or older and mentally competent to execute a contract;
Neither of the persons is legally married to a third party;
Neither of the persons is a party to another domestic partnership, or has been a party to another domestic partnership within the six months immediately prior to registration;
The persons are not related to each other by blood in a manner that would bar their marriage in the State of New York;
The persons have a close and committed personal relationship, live together and have been living together on a continuous basis for at least one year;
The persons return a completed domestic partners affidavit provided by the County Clerk, notarized and signed by both parties; and
The proposed partners submit at least two items of proof evidencing their financial interdependence from among the following list:
Joint credit card: statement with both names.
Joint obligors on loan: note or other loan origination document with both names.
Joint tenants on lease: lease with both names.
Joint custody of a child.
Joint vehicle ownership: title in both names.
Joint wills: copy of a will or wills, with each party naming the other as beneficiary and/or executor.
Power of attorney: copy of powers of attorney with each party naming the other party and no limitation on the term of the documents.
Health-care proxy: copy of health-care proxies/living wills, with each party giving the other party the power to make health-care/nonresuscitation decisions upon incapacitation.
Life insurance: copy of policy with one party naming the other as beneficiary.
Retirement benefits: copy of beneficiary designation form with one party designating the other as beneficiary.
Registration: domestic partnership filed in a different state or municipality which recognizes such partnerships.
Day care: joint responsibility for child care as evidenced by school documents or guardianship.
Affidavit by a creditor or other person able to testify to the partners' financial interdependence.
County Clerk: other proof establishing economic interdependence, as determined by the County Clerk.
In order to register, persons shall execute an affidavit of domestic partnership and submit it to the County Clerk, who shall maintain a registry of domestic partnerships. Both parties to the partnership shall be present when the affidavit is submitted.
Except when one of the parties is confined to a prison, is in a hospital or other health-care facility, or is unable to travel to the office of the County Clerk because of a physical disability, the affidavits shall be submitted to the County Clerk at the office of the County Clerk.
The County Clerk may adopt such rules and filing fees as are necessary to implement this domestic partnership registration program, which shall include provisions necessary to provide for the registration of domestic partners when one of the partners is in prison or unable to travel, which shall be comparable (no more restrictive) to the rules applicable to persons in such circumstances who apply for a marriage license.
If either party or both parties to a registered domestic partnership determine that the partnership has terminated, one of the partners shall file a termination statement with the County Clerk. The person filing the termination statement shall declare that the domestic partnership is terminated and, if the termination statement has not been signed by both domestic partners, that the other domestic partner has been notified of such termination by registered mail, return receipt requested.
A domestic partnership shall terminate upon the marriage of the domestic partners to one another or whenever one of the parties to the partnership marries a third party.
[Amended 8-7-2012 by L.L. No. 48-2012]
A domestic partnership shall terminate upon the death of one of the parties.
The County Clerk shall establish procedures and filing fees to ensure the confidentiality of information in the registry of domestic partnerships. In the ordinary course of business, such records shall be released only:
The following restrictions shall not apply to records that are at least 50 years old, or to records where both parties to the domestic partnership are deceased:
Where a party to the domestic partnership sends a third party to obtain a domestic partnership record without a letter of authorization, the third party may make the request and pay any applicable fee if the third party consents to have the record mailed directly to the party to the domestic partnership.
If a person requires information concerning the prior history of domestic partnerships of a person who is that person's domestic partner or spouse or prospective domestic partner or spouse, the office of the County Clerk shall, upon receiving adequate assurance that such person's interest is as described in this subsection, payment of the appropriate fee, and the furnishing of an approximate date of the registration of the partnership and sufficient information to search under at least one party's name, confirm only the fact of a prior domestic partnership by a "yes" or "no" answer.
Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit the publication of statistics pertaining to domestic partnerships which have been registered by the County Clerk, provided that appropriate measures are taken to prevent identification of persons registered.
The County Clerk shall issue a certificate of domestic partnership registration to persons who have registered pursuant to this chapter. Such a certificate shall constitute notice of a registered domestic partnership when persons apply for rights or benefits available to domestic partners.
The application fee for the processing of the request for such a certificate of domestic partnership registration shall be $20 and must be paid before any such certificate may be issued.
As a matter of County policy:
Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to supersede, alter, affect or conflict with any applicable state or federal statutes, laws, regulations, or rules; nor shall anything in this chapter be construed to confer any right, privilege, or benefit not explicitly provided for herein.
Nothing in this chapter requires, or is intended to require, any religious or denominational institution or organization operated for charitable or educational purposes to recognize or provide health benefits to domestic partners.
This chapter shall apply to domestic partners who apply for a domestic partnership registration on or after the effective date of this chapter.
Any person who willfully makes a material misrepresentation under § 410-3 of this chapter shall be guilty of a violation punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.