BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 205
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          ASSEMBLY THIRD READING
          AB 205 (Goldberg) 
          As Amended June 3, 2003
          Majority vote

           JUDICIARY           9-4         APPROPRIATIONS      17-7        
            
           
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          |Ayes:|Corbett, Dutra, Hancock,  |Ayes:|Steinberg,, Berg, Kehoe,  |
          |     |Laird, Longville,         |     |Corbett,                  |
          |     |Montanez, Nunez, Vargas,  |     |Diaz, Firebaugh,          |
          |     |Lieber                    |     |Goldberg, Leno,           |
          |     |                          |     |Nation, Chan, Nunez,      |
          |     |                          |     |Pavley,                   |
          |     |                          |     |Ridley-Thomas, Simitian,  |
          |     |                          |     |Wiggins, Yee, Laird       |
          |     |                          |     |                          |
          |-----+--------------------------+-----+--------------------------|
          |Nays:|Harman, Bates, Pacheco,   |Nays:|Bates, Daucher, Haynes,   |
          |     |Spitzer                   |     |Maldonado,                |
          |     |                          |     |Pacheco, Runner,          |
          |     |                          |     |Samuelian                 |
          |     |                          |     |                          |
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           SUMMARY  :  Seeks to extend most of the rights and  
          responsibilities available to spouses solely available under  
          state law to registered domestic partners.  Specifically,  this  
          bill  :  

          1)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 as  
            are granted to and imposed upon spouses.  (All further  
            references to domestic partners refer to registered domestic  
            partners.)

          2)Provides that former domestic partners shall have the same  
            rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the  
            same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law as  
            are granted to and imposed upon former spouses.

          3)Provides that a surviving domestic partner, following the  
            death of the other partner, shall have the same rights,  
            protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same  








                                                                  AB 205
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            responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law as are  
            granted to and imposed upon a widow or a widower.

          4)Provides that the rights and obligations of domestic partners  
            with respect to a child of either of them shall be the same as  
            those of spouses and the rights and obligations of former or  
            surviving domestic partners with respect to a child of either  
            of them shall be the same as those of former or surviving  
            spouses.

          5)Repeals existing law providing for termination of a domestic  
            partnership under specified circumstances and instead provides  
            that a domestic partnership may be terminated in one of two  
            ways:  a) Filing a Notice of Termination of Domestic  
            Partnership with the Secretary of State provided that certain  
            conditions are met (similar to those required in a summary  
            dissolution under Family Code Section 2400), including, among  
            other things, that there are no children involved and the  
            domestic partnership is not more than five years in duration;  
            or, b) Commencing proceedings for dissolution, nullity, or  
            legal separation in superior court. 

          6)Requires the Secretary of State (SOS) to notify currently  
            registered domestic partners of the bill's changes to law and  
            makes related and conforming changes to the definition of  
            "domestic partner" and the law relating to domestic partners. 

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Assembly Appropriations  
          analysis, General Fund revenue loss of up to several million  
          dollars annually from the joint filing of tax returns by  
          domestic          partners.  The SOS estimates one-time costs of  
          about $50,000 to revise forms, prepare and mail the required  
          notifications, and modify software.

           COMMENTS  :  This bill seeks to extend most of the rights and  
          responsibilities available to spouses solely under state law to  
          domestic partners.  In support, the author states the bill: 

               ?[provides] a critical, urgently needed measure of equity  
               to registered domestic partners.  These couples today  
               enjoy less than twenty rights under California law.  Yet  
               they experience the same range of life challenges as  
               married couples do.  They pool their financial resources  
               to make ends meet.  They raise their children.  They care  
               for elderly relatives.  They cope with illness,  








                                                                  AB 205
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               incapacity and, eventually, death.  Some of them separate  
               and disagree about their respective obligations.  There  
               is no good reason to deny these couples the legal rights  
               and duties that have been designed to help families care  
               for each other and cope with crises.  

               Granting the substantial rights and proportional  
               responsibilities provided for by this bill will further  
               the State's interest in promoting stable and lasting  
               family relationships.  It will not, however, create  
               equality.  Far from it.  Until same-sex couples have  
               access to the full range of legal protections at both the  
               state and federal level, through the same institution  
               with all of the same ceremonies and respect as  
               different-sex couples, they will continue to experience  
               very substantial economic and practical hardships and  
               discrimination.  Though it will not create equality, this  
               bill nonetheless will improve the lives of many thousands  
               California families in tangible, important ways.  
           
           The author indicates that the purpose of the bill is to ensure  
          that domestic partners have the opportunity to obtain the  
          rights, protections, benefits, responsibilities, obligations,  
          and duties of a number of laws, including, among others, laws  
          relating to: 1) domestic relations, including, but not limited  
          to, rights and obligations of financial support during and after  
          the relationship, community property, child custody, visitation,  
          and duties of financial support of children; 2) title and other  
          incidents of the acquisition, ownership, or transfer of real or  
          personal property during life or at death; 3) government  
          benefits, including, but not limited to, workers' compensation,  
          public assistance, and the ability to apply for absentee ballots  
          and other documents for a spouse; 4) taxes, including, but not  
          limited to, joint filing of income tax returns, marital tax  
          exemptions, estate tax exemptions; and, 5) health insurance  
          coverage for family members, family care and medical leave,  
          bereavement leave, coverage of family members under medical,  
          dental, life, and disability insurance, and spousal pension  
          rights and death benefits. 

          It is important to note that not all of the rights and  
          responsibilities available to and imposed upon spouses will be  
          extended to domestic partners under this bill.  First, this bill  
          deals only with the rights and responsibilities available to  
          spouses under state law, not federal law.  Thus, none of the  








                                                                  AB 205
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          important legal rights conferred under federal law to spouses -  
          1,049 federal protections, benefits and responsibilities such as  
          Social Security and Medicare, according to the U.S. General  
          Accounting Office - would be extended to domestic partners under  
          this bill.  Second, this measure does not give to domestic  
          partners the assurance that their partnerships will be legally  
          recognized in other states, a significant benefit conferred on  
          spouses. 

          Third, this bill does not impact those rights and  
          responsibilities available to spouses under the California  
          Constitution, initiative statutes, or those statutes that have  
          been established in other ways that cannot be changed by the  
          Legislature with a bill passed by a simple majority vote.  For  
          example, this bill will not extend Proposition 13's benefit to  
          spouses concerning property tax reassessment to domestic  
          partners.  So, upon the death of one partner, which results in a  
          transfer of the decedent's interest to the survivor,  
          reassessment would be triggered for domestic partners, but not  
          for spouses. 

          Opponents of this measure argue that many rights are already  
          available to domestic partners through wills, durable power of  
          attorney forms and other private contractual agreements which  
          can be used by same-sex couples to govern the rights and  
          obligations of their relationships.  Such agreements, however,  
          are limited in effect.  For example, private contracts have no  
          legal effect on benefits granted by the state such as tax  
          benefits and other obligations including, parentage, custody and  
          visitation arrangements, and child support obligations.   
          Additionally, whether or not the law would intervene to protect  
          unmarried partners who enter into such private agreements is  
          dependent on whether an enforceable written or oral contract is  
          found to exist.  As a result, it appears that contracting is not  
          an adequate substitute for extending the rights and  
          responsibilities of marriage available under state law to  
          domestic partners.

          In 2000, California voters approved Proposition 22, the  
          California Defense of Marriage Act.  Proposition 22 added  
          Section 308.5 to the Family Code, to read: "Only marriage  
          between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."  
           Proposition 22 did nothing to change who may marry in  
          California; existing law already provided that applicants  
          seeking a marriage license must be a man and a woman.  Instead,  








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          it restricted the kind of marriage that may be recognized in  
          California to a marriage between a man and a woman.  In fact,  
          ballot arguments in favor of Proposition 22 evidenced an intent  
          to prevent recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages in  
          California.  Passage of the initiative means that if a same-sex  
          couple, legally married in another state, moves to California,  
          their valid marriage will not be recognized in California.

          Opponents of the bill argue that the passage of Proposition 22  
          precludes California from extending the rights and  
          responsibilities of marriage available under state law to  
          domestic partners.  On this point, the author states, "AB 205  
          does not pertain to or affect marriage in any way, or affect  
          which parties may marry under California law, or what marriages  
          will be treated as valid in California.  ? Even with the passage  
          of AB 205, domestic partnership will remain quite distinct from  
          marriage in a number of ways: It will continue to be entered  
          into and, for many people, exited in a different way than  
          marriage; It may not be recognized outside of California; The  
          federal government will not recognize domestic partners for the  
          1,049 federal rights and benefits associated with marriage, such  
          as social security, Medicaid, and federal taxes; [and] it will  
          not grant same-sex couples the full social and symbolic equality  
          of marriage."  


           Analysis Prepared by  :    Saskia Kim / JUD. / (916) 319-2334       
                                     FN: 0001745