“Pacte Civil de Solidarité” (PACS), or “Civil Solidarity Pacts,” were instituted in France on November 9, 1999.
While not the same as legal marriage, these PACS do provide far more than just symbolic significance. PACS offer some of the tax, welfare, and inheritance rights that married couples enjoy. Registered couples are able to share such things as joint auto insurance, extend their social-security coverage to each other, file joint tax returns, and leave each other property in their wills on favorable tax terms.
There are some striking differences between registered couples and legal marriage. PACS registered couples:
Originally, registered couples had to wait for three years before receiving joint tax benefits. In November 2004, the former economic minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, abolished the three-year wait period as part of the the 2005 finance bill.
- Do not have any rights to adoption
- Have no right to procure medically-assisted conceptions
- Are not recognized outside of France
- Are not allowed to have a non-French partner gain immigration status
Because most mayors in France have wanted nothing to do with same-sex marriage, the ceremony has been relegated to the back rooms of court buildings, unlike marriages that take place at City Hall.
Air France announced that it will offer lower spousal rates to employees and clients who are registered same-sex couples. Other French airlines and the national railroad already offered job benefits to same-sex domestic partners before PACS were instituted.
Numbers Signed Up
Nearly 14,000 couples registered during the first four months that the PACS have been offered. 46,000 couples registered between November 1999 and October 2000. Because of privacy protections, it is unknown what percent are same-sex couples.
Officials estimate that, during the first year, 50-70 percent were same-sex couples. The lobby group PACS Collective estimated that 75 percent of the Paris registrations were same-sex couples, with only 40 percent from Paris suburbs.
Of the opposite-sex couples, it is thought that many of them are deeply cynical about traditional marriage, and some use the registration as a trial marriage.
During 2002, 25,000 couples signed a PACS contract. In the first half of 2003, 15,000 couples signed up.
As of December 2004, more than 130,000 PACS contracts have been signed nationwide; 60 percent by opposite-sex couples.
The official French government’s Web information on PACS:
Not a Model for Family Recognition in U.S.
This domestic partnership status does not work as a model for America, because implementing an equivalent legal status to marriage requires duplicating 150-to-350 laws in each state, and more than 1,138 laws on the federal level. [See U.S. Federal Laws for the Legally Married.] The whole idea is completely impractical.
Further, domestic partnerships are usually not recognized outside of the issuing state. Because of the lack of portability, they create a patchwork legal status as a couple moves or vacations.
While such contracts are an attempt to create equal treatment, they only reinforce a separate and totally unequal status, one we consider to be a manifestation of apartheid. [See Marrying Apartheid: The Failure of Domestic Partnership Status]
Governments that offer Full Legal Marriage
South Africa (2005)
New Zealand (2013)
New Zealand (2013)
(England, Wales, Scotland) (2013)
US States & Territories
New Hampshire (2009)
District of Columbia (2009)
New York (2011)
Rhode Island (2013)
New Jersey (2013)
New Mexico (2013)
Michigan (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
Arkansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
West Virginia (2014)
Kansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
North Carolina (2014)
South Carolina (2014)
U.S. Supreme Court (June 26, 2015):
Ruling: All U.S. States must now
allow same-sex couples the
freedom of legal marriage.
Native American Tribes|
Coquille Tribe, Oregon (2009)
Mashantucket Pequot, Connecticut (2011)
Suquamish Tribe, Washington (2011)
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Washington (2013)
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Minnesota (2013)
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan (2013)
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Michigan (2013)
Santa Ysabel Tribe, California (2013)
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, Washington (2013)
Cheyenne, Oklahoma (2013)
Arapaho, Oklahoma (2013)
Leech Lake Tribal Court, Minnesota (2013)
Puyallup Tribe, Washington (2914)
Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming (2014)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan, (2014)
Colville Confederated Tribes, Washington (2014)
Central Council of Tlingit, Alaska (2015)
Haida Indian Tribes, Alaska (2015)