July 12, 1999

Re: Eligibility of Domestic Partners to be Members of Credit Unions

Dear M ________:

This is in response to your letter of May 3, 1999, in which you inquired about the current position of this Department on the inclusion in the field of membership of a credit union of “domestic partners” of persons primarily eligible for membership.

Our position is that if the bylaws of a credit union expressly provide that domestic partners of persons primarily eligible for membership may be members of the credit union, domestic partners may be admitted to membership.

More broadly, our position is that a member of the household of a person primarily eligible for membership has a common bond with the membership group which entitles the household member to membership in the credit union, if the credit union’s bylaws so provide. We regard the term “household members” to have generally the same meaning as set forth in Interpretive Ruling and Policy Statement 99-1 of the National Credit Union Administration. Under ordinary circumstances, a domestic partner of a person would be a member of the person’s household. Therefore, a domestic partner of a person primarily eligible for membership could become a member of a credit union if the credit union’s bylaws expressly extended membership privileges to household members.

Please note, however, that it is questionable whether domestic partners are persons who are within the same “immediate family.” Accordingly, provisions in credit union bylaws which extend membership eligibility to the immediate family of persons eligible for membership do not necessarily authorize the credit union to admit domestic partners to membership.

If you have any questions regarding this matter, please feel free to contact me at (415) 263-8512.

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