The new season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia premiered Thursday, September 16 with an episode entitled “Mac Fights Gay Marriage.” In this episode, the shameless duo, Charlie Kelly and Frank Reynolds, decided to apply for a domestic partnership. Their idea is to get “gay married” so they can exploit the system for the benefits involved. The legal issues to be explored are 1) whether two straight men can be approved for a domestic partnership; and 2) what the actual benefits of a domestic partnership are.
The City of Philadelphia does have a Domestic Partnership Registry. It appears that there is nothing in the terms of the registration packet that would prevent two straight men from being approved for a domestic partnership. Charlie and Frank live together, and have always agreed to keep each other’s best interests in mind. Charlie and Frank do meet all the requirements as set forth in the packet, with the exception that Frank could be Charlie’s father. (Frank admitted to having sex with Charlie’s mother before Charlie was born in a previous episode, leaving open the possibility that Frank could be Charlie’s long-lost father.) But leaving that possibility out, assuming they could provide three of the verification documents provided below, they could actually be approved.

Here is a reproduction of the relevant portions of the registration packet for a Domestic Partnership:

Life Partnership Verification Statement

We hereby certify that we are members of a “Life Partnership” meeting each of the following requirements for the existence of a “Life Partnership” set forth in Section 9-1106(2) of the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance:
1. A long-term committed relationship between two unmarried individuals of the same gender;
2. Both partners are at least 18 years old and competent to contract;
3. Partners are not related to each other by blood in any way, which would prohibit marriage in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania;
4. Partners are the sole Life Partner of the other person;
5. Partners have not been member of a different Life Partnership for the past twelve months (unless the prior Life Partnership ended because of the death of the other Life Partner);
6. Partners agree to share the common necessities of life and to be responsible for each others common welfare;
7. Partners share at least one residence with the other Life Partner;
8. Partners agree under penalty of law to notify the Commission on any change in the status of the Life Partnership.

We are submitting with this Verification Statement evidence that we have been interdependent for at least six (6) months prior to the date this Verification Statement is filed, including proof of at least three of the following (check those items for which proof is submitted):
__ Common ownership of real property or a common leasehold interest in property.
— Common ownership of a motor vehicle.
— Driver’s license listing a common address,
__Proof of joint bank accounts or credit accounts.
__ Proof of designation as a beneficiary for life insurance or retirement benefits or beneficiary designation under a partner’s will.
__Assignment of a durable power of attorney or health care power of attorney.

This law does not apply to private employers whose employee benefit plans are governed by ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) to provide benefits to Life Partners of employees. However, many private employers voluntarily offer domestic partnership benefits.

The benefits available to domestic partners are only guaranteed to employees of the city of Philadelphia. Since neither Frank or Charlie are employees of the city, they would need approval by their private employer. Frank co-owns Paddy’s Pub with Frank and Dennis. So Frank can extend some benefits to Charlie should they become domestic partners. The benefits that come from domestic partnership in Philadelphia are as follows:

For employees of the City of Philadelphia, registration makes their Life Partners eligible for benefits under the City’s and their union’s various employee benefit plans (i.e. medical coverage, leave, etc.)

City employees may designate their Life Partner or any other person as a
beneficiary of their retirement benefits.

So Frank and Charlie, or any two “straight dudes” for that matter, could be approved for a domestic partnership in Philadelphia provided they meet all the requirements. But it is doubtful that many straight men would agree to share their bank account or vehicle, or commit to any of the other possible requirements besides simply living together just to obtain domestic partnership benefits. Frank and Charlie aren’t just any two straight guys though, and the depths of their moral depravity know no bounds. So Frank and Charlie’s efforts to exploit the system may pay off and Charlie should be able to share in any benefits that Frank receives through Paddy’s Pub, such as medical coverage and the ability to designate your life partner as the beneficiary of your retirement benefits.

Look here, for the entire Life Partnership Registration Packet for the City of Philadelphia.

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