Las Vegas Sun

June 1, 2015

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Some happy relationship news for Valentine’s Day: domestic partnerships holding strong

For those who made a reservation for one this Valentine’s Day, disgusted by the prospect of dating and the institution of marriage, take heart in some good relationship news: Domestic partnerships in Nevada are holding strong.

Just 4 percent of the unions allowed under state law since 2009 have ended in “divorce.”

Since the legislation took effect, 3,344 couples have entered domestic partnerships. Just 158 have been terminated, according to the Nevada secretary of state, who administers the program.

“People don’t enter into them lightly,” said Bob Fulkerson, executive director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada who has a domestic partnership certificate framed on his wall. “That’s why the number of terminations are infinitesimal. It shows we’ve really beat the national average” compared to marriages.

Both opposite and same-sex couple can enter into domestic partnerships, which grants many of the same legal rights as marriages. The law was trumpeted by members of the progressive and gay communities as landmark legislation.

Nevada’s Constitution prohibits same-sex marriages because of a voter-approved initiative passed in 2000 and 2002.

Nevada, for a decade, has led the nation in divorces, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics. We edged out Arkansas in 2010 to maintain the most divorces per person, at 5.9 per 1,000. (A silver lining: that’s down from 11.4 divorces per 1,000 in 2009.)

Estimates of chances of marriages ending in divorce vary, but most hover around 40 percent.

To be sure, the comparison between domestic partnerships and marriages is not complete, scientific or, for that matter, particularly enlightening. Domestic partnerships in Nevada have only been around for two years and four months - so these formalized relationships are essentially still in the honeymoon phase.

And also to be fair to marriage, there aren’t that many domestic partnerships by comparison.

In Clark County - marriage capital of the world - the clerk issued 4,333 marriage licenses in the days leading up to 7/7/7, the peak wedding weekend in Las Vegas history.

Even in 2011’s Valentine’s Day, the county issued 1,145 licenses, about a third of the total number of domestic partnerships over two years.

Still, state Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, and an author of the legislation, said the number far exceeded his expectations. “The feedback I’ve personally received has been very positive over the years. Most people seem to be quite pleased with what we’re able to do with a domestic partnership,” he said.

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