Skip to comments.CA: Justices uphold California domestic partner law
Posted on 06/29/2005 3:36:05 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Gays and lesbians won a major legal victory Wednesday when the California Supreme Court let stand a new law granting registered domestic partners many of the same rights and protections of heterosexual marriage.
Without comment, the unanimous justices upheld appellate and trial court rulings that the sweeping measure does not conflict with a voter-approved initiative defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Justice Janice Rogers Brown, who leaves Thursday to join the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, did not vote.
The domestic partner law, which was signed in 2003 by former Gov. Gray Davis and took effect Jan. 1, represents the nation's most comprehensive recognition of gay and lesbian domestic rights after Vermont's recognition of civil unions. It grants registered couples virtually every spousal right available under state law except the ability to file joint income taxes.
Groups opposing the law said Wednesday they hope to qualify a ballot measure asking voters to overturn the justices, and perhaps to bar gay and lesbians from ever getting married in California.
"Certainly, this reflects the importance of the people of California rising up to insure that their vote in 2000 is counted and not overlooked by the courts," said Robert Tyler, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, which asked the justices to overturn the law.
The Campaign for California Families, along with the late Sen. Pete Knight, originally challenged the law, saying it undermines Proposition 22 - the 2000 initiative that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Knight, a Republican from Palmdale who died after the suit was filed, was the author of that measure, which passed with 61 percent of the vote.
But Wednesday's ruling by California's justices, the final arbitrators of state law, upheld an April decision by the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento, which had ruled Proposition 22's language is clearly limited to "marriage."
By 1999, California had already begun allowing same-sex couples or couples over 62 years old to register as domestic partners, and Proposition 22 didn't express "an intent to repeal our state's then-existing domestic partners law" or ban future legislation regarding domestic partners, the appeals court held.
Supporters of Proposition 22 could have easily barred the Legislature from enacting or extending domestic partnership laws by using language similar to that in other states - in Nebraska, for example, an initiative defining marriage as between a man and a woman also stated that domestic partnerships or civil unions between same sex couples would not be valid, the appeals court noted.
The passage of AB205, which was authored by Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, D-Los Angeles, extended to domestic partners nearly all the same rights as married couples. To stiffen the measure, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation in September requiring insurance companies to offer coverage to the state's registered domestic partners, which number about 29,000 couples.
Whether Proposition 22 will survive is another question. A San Francisco County Superior Court judge ruled in March that Proposition 22, and other California laws limiting marriage to unions between one man and one woman, were unconstitutional. Such laws violate the civil rights of gays and lesbians because they "implicate the basic human right to marry a person of one's choice," Judge Richard Kramer wrote.
That ruling was immediately appealed to the San Francisco-based 1st District Court of Appeal, where it is pending.
The domestic partners case is Knight v. Superior Court, S133961.
Just don't call it marriage.
What does it matter what it's called?
This is gay marriage, like it or not.
I bet the census records are full of these sham marriages and the percentage of non-marriage "marriages" is probably in the low single digits. Definitely not an argument to allow gay marriage - just something to consider when someone argues for the sanctity of heterosexual marriage - i.e., it's been pretty polluted already.
Last night my wife and I had dinner with a couple who formerly worked for the same company - one with an anti-nepotism policy that meant that after they married one would have to quit. I wonder if there is some tortured legal theory that supports an employer's ability to enforce such a rule while being subject to all this same-sex partner crapola.
It world be incredibly inconsistent - but that's hardly novel in the law.
What's to prevent two female roommates or two male roommates to pretend they're gay couples to take advantage of these benefits?
Absolutely nothing. But then again there is nothing to stop hetersexuals from dong the same.