Friday, October 17, 2008



Is Proposition 8 discriminatory? Opponents claim that same-sex couples should have the sames rights as married people. Guess what. In California, they already do. By law, same-sex couples who register as domestic partners have all the rights and privileges of married couples. Proposition 8 protects the name of marriage without Here's how the timeline to prove it:

The Evolution and Legalization of Same-Gender Relationships in California
1999 - The Domestic Partnership Registration Act is enacted by the California State Legislature, establishing a statewide registry for domestic partners. A “domestic partnership” was defined as “two adults who have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring.” While stopping short of affording same gender couples the highly prized term “marriage” and the full range of legal rights and obligations associated with marriage, the Domestic Partner Registration Act bestowed basic legal recognition, rights, and obligations on domestic partner registrants, including hospital visitation privileges and certain employee health benefits of a partner.

2001 - The next several years saw the legislative expansion of the scope of benefits afforded to domestic partners. In 2001, domestic partners became eligible to make medical decisions for an incapacitated partner, to utilize employee sick leave to care for an ill partner or the child of an ill partner, to use unemployment benefits if relocated due to a partner’s job, to use stepparent adoption procedures to adopt a partner’s child, and the right to sue for the wrongful death of a partner.

2002 - The Probate Code was amended to afford domestic partners the right to automatically inherit a portion of the separate property of a deceased partner, and the Unemployment Insurance Code was amended to provide for 6 weeks of paid family leave to care for a sick spouse or domestic partner.

2003 - Assembly Bill 205, also known as the California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003 (Domestic Partner Act), significantly expanded the rights afforded to domestic partners

“in order to secure to eligible couples . . . the full range of legal rights, protections and benefits, as well as all of the responsibilities, obligations, and duties to each other, to their children, to third parties and to the State, as the laws of California extend to and impose upon spouses.”

2005 - The final draft of the Domestic Partner Act became effective on January 1, 2005, under Family Code Section 297.5, which provides that:

“Registered domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law, whether they derive from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law, or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses.”

2005 - Family Code Section 297.5 (b) was added in order to equalize the rights and obligations of former registered domestic partners with those of former spouses.

2005 - Family Code Section 297.5 (c) was also added in order to afford a surviving registered domestic partner upon death of the other partner the same rights and responsibilities afforded to a widow or widower upon the death of a spouse.

2005 - Family Code Section 297.5 (d) further provides that the rights and obligations of a domestic partner, former domestic partner, or surviving domestic partner shall be the same as those of spouses, former spouses, or surviving spouses.

2005 - Eight months later in the case of Koebke v. Bermuda Heights Country Club, the California Supreme Court discussed Family Code Section 297.5 in addressing the marital status discrimination claims of a lesbian couple registered under the Domestic Partner Act against a country club that denied the couple benefits extended to married club members. In ruling that the lesbian couple had an actionable claim against the country club under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, the California Supreme Court stated:

“a chief goal of the Domestic Partner Act is to equalize the status of registered domestic partners and married couples.”

2006 - The California Legislature amended Family Code Section 297.5 to afford registered domestic partners another privilege routinely afforded only to married couples, to wit, the opportunity to file income taxes jointly or separately for purposes of state income tax returns, with the earned income of jointly reporting domestic partners to be recognized as community property.

2007 - The California Legislature passed a law (Cal. Stat., Ch. 567) allowing domestic partners the opportunity to change their name to that of their partner during the domestic partner registration process.

2008 - In the case of In re Marriage Cases (43 Cal. 4th 75(2008)) the California Supreme Court held that same-sex couples have the legal right to marry in the State of California. While the decision is widely considered to be a big step, legally it simply bestowed the highly prized term “marriage” upon a type of union that quietly albeit steadily developed the legal equivalent of marriage.

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