BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






                           SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
                            Martha M. Escutia, Chair
                           2003-2004 Regular Session


          AB 205                                                 A
          Assembly Member Goldberg                               B
          As Amended June 3, 2003                                
          Hearing Date: July 1, 2003                             2
          Family and Government Code; and                        0
          Revenue and Taxation Codes                             5
          GMO:rm                                                 

                                     SUBJECT
                                         
               Domestic Partnerships: Rights and Responsibilities

                                   DESCRIPTION  

          This bill would:
            recast the amendments made to the Domestic Partnership  
             Act by various bills enacted over the last four years,  
             that granted to registered domestic partners specified,  
             but limited, rights and benefits; and
            extend to registered domestic partners substantially all  
             rights, benefits, and obligations of married persons  
             under state law, with the exception of rights, benefits,  
             and obligations accorded only to married persons by  
             federal law, the California Constitution, or initiative  
             statutes.  

                                    BACKGROUND  

          AB 26 (Migden), Chapter 588, Statutes of 1999, enacted the  
          Domestic Partnership Act, established the statewide  
          domestic partnership registry, provided registered domestic  
          partners hospital visitation rights, and granted health  
          benefits to domestic partners of state employees.  In the  
          following year, SB 2011 (Escutia, Chapter 1004, Statutes of  
          2000) qualified registered domestic partners for housing in  
          specially designed accessible housing for senior citizens.   
          Two years later, AB 25 (Migden, Chapter 893, Statutes of  
          2001) granted 12 new rights and benefits to registered  
          domestic partners, including the right to sue for wrongful  
          death, to use employee sick leave to care for an ill  
                                                                 
          (more)



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          partner or partner's child, to make medical decisions on  
          behalf of an incapacitated partner, to receive unemployment  
          benefits if forced to relocate because of a partner's job,  
          and to adopt a partner's child as a stepparent.  SB 1049  
          (Speier, Chapter 146, Statutes of 2001) permitted San Mateo  
          County to offer death benefits to surviving domestic  
          partners of county employees.

          In 2002, the following bills were enacted: AB 2216 (Keeley,  
          Chapter 447), granting a domestic partner inheritance  
          rights if his or her partner dies without a will; AB 2777  
          (Nation, Chapter 373) added Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and  
          Marin Counties to those permitted to offer death benefits  
          to surviving domestic partners of county employees; SB 1575  
          (Sher, Chapter 412) added domestic partners to those  
          exempted from the prohibition on receiving from a will or  
          trust that one helped to draft; and SB 1661 (Kuehl) granted  
          six weeks of paid family leave to employees to care for a  
          sick spouse or domestic partner.  AB 1338 (Koretz, 2001)  
          would have established civil unions for domestic partners  
          in California, but the bill was held in the Assembly  
          Judiciary Committee.

          This bill continues the march towards parity in rights and  
          benefits between registered domestic partners, as currently  
          defined, and married couples, under state law.

                             CHANGES TO EXISTING LAW
                                        
          Existing law  establishes rules relating to valid marriages,  
          and specifies the rights and obligations of married  
          persons.

           Existing law  , Proposition 22, established by initiative  
          that only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or  
          recognized in California. 

           Existing law  defines "domestic partners" as "two adults who  
          have chosen to share one another's lives in an intimate and  
          committed relationship of mutual caring" and who file a  
          Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the Secretary of  
          State. [Family Code Section 297.]  The law allows domestic  
          partnerships only to same-sex couples over the age of 18,  
          or to opposite-sex couples where at least one of the  
          domestic partners is over the age of 62 and is eligible for  
                                                                       




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          old-age social security benefits, who are not blood  
          relatives, not married to others, not members of another  
          domestic partnership, and who share a common residence and  
          agree to be jointly responsible for each other's basic  
          living expenses incurred during the partnership.  A  
          domestic partnership, once registered, may be terminated by  
          either party by sending a notice to the other party, and  
          filing a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership to  
          the Secretary of State.  A domestic partnership also is  
          terminated if one partner dies or marries.

           Existing law  grants domestic partners specified rights,  
          similar to those granted married persons. 

           This bill  would expand the rights of and impose  
          responsibilities on registered domestic partners, similar  
          to the rights and responsibilities conferred on married  
          couples by state law. (See Comment 2a for details on  
          additional rights.)

           This bill  would require that domestic partners submit to  
          the jurisdiction of the superior courts as a condition of  
          registration as domestic partners, and give them access to  
          the courts to resolve issues such as child custody,  
          support, and visitation, termination of the domestic  
          partnership and division of partnership property and other  
          related issues similar to those that arise in dissolution  
          or nullity of marriage or in legal separation.

           This bill  would make the filing of an intentionally and  
          materially false Declaration of Domestic Partnership with  
          the Secretary of State a misdemeanor. 

           The bill  would make these changes effective on January 1,  
          2005, require the Secretary of State on three separate  
          occasions to inform domestic partners of these changes, and  
          require the Department of General Services to notify all  
          state agencies to review and change their public-use forms  
          to reflect appropriate references to domestic partners or  
          partnerships wherever references to married persons or  
          marriages are made.

                                     COMMENT
           
          1.    Need for the bill
                                                                       




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             According to the official Census, there were 5,877,084  
            married couples in California in 2000, and over 811,000  
            households composed of two or more unmarried adults.  Of  
            the latter, almost 100,000 are households headed by  
            same-sex partners.  Since the enactment of the Domestic  
            Partnership Act (Act) in 1999, there have been 20,319  
            domestic partnerships registered, of which 797 have been  
            terminated. [Data from the Secretary of State, current to  
            6/13/03.]

            Supporters of AB 26 in 1999 argued that the concept of  
            domestic partnerships had been well established in many  
            California cities since 1984, and that passage of the  
            Domestic Partnership Act solidified what was already  
            strong public support for the recognition of domestic  
            partnerships as legitimate, socially responsible  
            relationships.  Fifteen other states now confer limited  
            rights or benefits to domestic partners, and, most  
            notably, Vermont recognizes domestic partnerships as  
            "civil unions." Seven states are considering legislation  
            to allow same-sex marriage, civil unions, or domestic  
            partnerships similar to California's.

            The author's office provided anecdotal information that  
            highlight the problems encountered by domestic partners  
            today, despite the some 15 rights and responsibilities  
            that have been granted to them by legislation enacted in  
            the last four years (see Background).  One anecdote  
            involved a person who was denied the right to make  
            funeral arrangements for her partner who died in an  
            accident, despite 11 years of partnership, and their  
            daughter, born during the partnership to the partner who  
            died, taken by the deceased partner's family for two  
            months until a court resolved the issue of custody.   
            Another involved the domestic partner of a victim of the  
            9/11 terrorist attack, who encountered problems making a  
            claim against the victims' compensation fund.  Yet  
            another involved one partner left with twin children  
            conceived by artificial insemination and born during the  
            domestic partnership, unsupported by the other partner  
            who left the partnership with her own child and who makes  
            a comfortable living.  The case of Sharon Smith, the  
            surviving partner of Diane Whipple who was killed in the  
            notorious dog-mauling case in San Francisco, was brought  
                                                                       




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            to this Legislature's attention when she was ruled  
            ineligible to bring a wrongful death suit against those  
            responsible for her partner's death. 

            In these anecdotes, the problems all revolve around the  
            same issues that could arise if the partnerships were  
            marriages instead of domestic partnerships.

            Thus, the author argues that AB 205 is needed:

               Same sex couples and senior couples in California  
               who are registered domestic partners are  
               currently granted approximately fifteen separate  
               rights and responsibilities.  There remain  
               hundreds of provisions of state law that grant  
               certain privileges or responsibilities to married  
               couples, and treat unmarried couples, even those  
               registered as domestic partners, as legal  
               strangers. 

               There is simply no good reason to deny those  
               additional rights and duties to registered,  
               committed domestic partners and their children.   
               Granting these rights and responsibilities will  
               further the state's interest in promoting stable  
               and lasting family relationships, and will  
               protect family members from the economic and  
               social consequences of abandonment, separation,  
               the death of loved ones, and other life crises.   
               It will also protect couples, the children they  
               are raising, third parties, and the state from  
               numerous harms and costs.

          2.    New rights and responsibilities

             This bill would provide that, effective January 1, 2005:
                 registered domestic partners (here used  
               interchangeably with domestic partners) shall have the  
               same rights, protections and benefits, as well as the  
               same obligations, responsibilities, and duties of  
               married persons (spouses) under state law;
                 former domestic partners would have the same rights  
               and obligations that former spouses now have; and
                 surviving domestic partners shall have the same  
               rights, protections and benefits as are granted to a  
                                                                       




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               surviving spouse of a decedent.

             a.   Rights and responsibilities found in statutory,  
               case, common, regulatory law as well as in government  
               policy with respect to married persons
             
               This bill would grant to domestic partners the same  
               rights, protections and benefits as well as duties,  
               obligations or responsibilities provided spouses under  
               statutory, case, or regulatory law, court rules, or as  
               provided by governmental policy or other sources of  
               law, including those rights and obligations with  
               respect to a child of either of the partners, former  
               partners, or surviving partner.

               Some of these rights and obligations, as applied to  
               domestic partners, would be:

                     the right to financial support during and after  
                 the relationship has terminated;
                     joint ownership of property (similar to  
                 community property), and equitable division of the  
                 partnership's property upon termination of the  
                 partnership by dissolution or legal separation;
                     custody, support and visitation of children of  
                 either or both partners born before or after the  
                 registration of the partnership or adopted after the  
                 registration of the partnership;
                     the right to make anatomical gifts, consent to  
                 autopsy and make funeral arrangements for a deceased  
                 partner, and for a deceased partner to be buried in  
                 family cemeteries;
                     the right to benefits, such as family care and  
                 medical leave, medical, dental, life and disability  
                 insurance, pension and death benefits for surviving  
                 partners of firefighters and police officers;
                     the mutual responsibility for debts to third  
                 parties incurred during the partnership;
                     protection from discrimination in housing and  
                 employment, and entitlements to benefits accorded  
                 spouses of employees or applicants;
                     the right to exercise the "marital  
                 communication" privilege, provided by the Evidence  
                 Code;
                     the right to receive government-provided or  
                                                                       




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                 government-regulated benefits, such as workers'  
                 compensation, public assistance, transfer of  
                 licenses upon death of a domestic partner;
                     the ability to apply for an absentee ballot for  
                 a partner;
                     the ability to make legal claims that are  
                 dependent on family status, such as claims against  
                 victims' compensation funds;
                     the fiduciary nature of the partner's duties  
                 towards each other; and
                     other rights and responsibilities derived from  
                 case law, government regulation or policy.

             b.    Rights and responsibilities conferred only by  
               federal law not applicable to domestic partners

                This bill contains declaratory language recognizing  
               that the state has no control over federal laws or  
               rights, benefits, or responsibilities conferred by  
               those laws on spouses.  However, the bill also states  
               that to the extent that California has adopted, refers  
               to, or relied upon federal law in conferring any right  
               or responsibility on spouses, registered domestic  
               partners would be treated under state law as if the  
               federal law recognized domestic partners.

               Thus, if federal law abolished inheritance taxes with  
               respect only to spouses, and the state law is based  
               upon the federal law, the state law would apply both  
               to spouses and to registered domestic partners under  
               this bill.  Any inheritance tax assessable against a  
               registered domestic partner would be limited to that  
               which would be imposed by federal law on inheritance  
               from an unrelated adult.

            c.    Right to access the courts for dissolution, legal  
            separation, or nullity

                Under this bill, the application for registration as a  
               domestic partnership would include the partners'  
               consent to the jurisdiction of the superior court for  
               the purpose of a proceeding to obtain a judgment of  
               dissolution or nullity of the domestic partnership or  
               for legal separation of the partners.

                                                                       




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               This is a major step towards recognizing the legal  
               relationship formed between domestic partners, and the  
               complications that arise from the termination of  
               long-term domestic partnerships.  Also, taking  
               unresolved issues to court under the current rules  
               governing legal separations and dissolutions or  
               nullity of marriage would be a more organized approach  
               to dealing with these complications, especially where  
               children and property are involved.  

               Under this bill, the partners' consent to the  
               jurisdiction of the court would be effective  
               regardless of whether one or both of the partners had  
               left the state or had maintained domicile in the  
               state.  Supporters argue that this provision, which is  
               different from the state's requirement that a married  
               petitioner be a resident of the state for six months  
               and the county for three months, is necessary, so that  
               registered domestic partners who had moved to a state  
               that did not permit dissolutions of domestic  
               partnerships could return to the California courts to  
               dissolve their partnerships.

                Suggested technical amendment:   In order to ensure  
               that the courts may also be accessed for proceedings  
               other than for a judgment of dissolution, nullity or  
               legal separation (as in actions to set aside a  
               termination resulting from the filing of a Notice of  
               Termination, etc.), proposed Section 298(c) should be  
               amended as follows:

               On page 7, line 10, after "partnership" insert: or for  
               any other proceeding related to the partner's rights  
               and obligations

            d.    Right to custody and visitation of children 

                One of the major issues family courts have had to deal  
               with in recent years is the right to custody and  
               visitation of a domestic partner who is not the  
               biological parent of the partners' child, when the  
               partnership terminates. The family courts of the state  
               have been building a body of law dealing with the same  
               problems that traditional families have had with child  
               custody, but applied to parents of the same sex.
                                                                       




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               In  Curiale v. Reagan  (1990) 222 C.A.3d 1597, the court  
               denied visitation rights to plaintiff who provided  
               support for three years for her lesbian partner and  
               their child, conceived by artificial insemination from  
               an anonymous donor.  In that case, the court found  
               that jurisdiction to adjudicate custody depends on  
               some proceeding properly before the court in which  
               custody is at issue, such as dissolution,  
               guardianship, or dependency.  "The legislature has not  
               conferred upon one in plaintiff's position, a  
               nonparent in a same sex bilateral relationship, any  
               right of custody or visitation upon the termination of  
               the relationship." (  Id.,  at 1600.)  In another case,  
                Nancy S. v. Michele G.  (1991) 228 C.A.3d 831, a  
               partner who was listed as the "father" on the birth  
               certificates of her two children shared with plaintiff  
               was allowed visitation only with plaintiff's consent  
               because, as plaintiff successfully argued under the  
               Uniform Parentage Act, she (plaintiff) was the sole  
               parent of the two children and thus entitled to  
               custody and that her consent was necessary for any  
               visitation by defendant.  The court in that case found  
               that defendant was neither a parent under the Uniform  
               Parentage Act nor a de facto parent to the children,  
               nor could plaintiff claim visitation rights under the  
               doctrine of  in loco parentis  .

               This bill intends to ensure that the courts are  
               accessible to domestic partners, by placing them on  
               par with married persons (spouses) in child custody,  
               visitation and support matters, even though one of the  
               partners is not the biological or adoptive parent of  
               the child.

               However, the specific authorizing provision, proposed  
               Family Code Section 298(c), only requires the parties  
               to consent to jurisdiction of the superior courts for  
               the purpose of obtaining a judgment of dissolution or  
               nullity of the domestic partnership or for legal  
               separation of the partners.  While this may take care  
               of the courts' problem as in  Curiale,  the consent may  
               not be sufficient if the partner who is the biological  
               parent of the child resists a petition for visitation  
               or for joint custody and raises the provisions of the  
                                                                       




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               Uniform Parentage Act that gives the biological or  
               adoptive parent the right to sole custody of a child,  
               as in  Nancy S.   

               In order to avoid this potential problem, the bill  
               could be amended to expressly give the courts  
               authority to treat a domestic partner as a biological  
               or adoptive (if the partner had not adopted the child)  
               parent of a child so that the Uniform Parentage Act  
               may be applied fairly to a domestic partner who is not  
               the biological parent of a child.  However,  
               application of Section 4 of the bill (proposed Section  
               297.5) to current Family Code Section 7613(a), which  
               makes husband and wife legal parents of a child  
               conceived by artificial insemination of the wife by a  
               man not her husband without the need for the husband  
               to adopt the child, would probably suffice in the  
               absence of express language in AB 205. [  Johnson v.  
               Calvert  (1993) 5 Cal. 4th 84 (holding that spouses who  
               use a surrogate to have a child are both legal parents  
               of the child);  In re Marriage of Buzzanca  (1998) 61  
               Cal. App. 4th 1410 (holding that spouses who use a  
               surrogate to have a child are both legal parents even  
               if neither spouse has a biological relationship to the  
               child).]

               Even if the domestic partner who is not the biological  
               or adoptive parent of the child is so treated, the  
               court still will apply the best interest of the child  
               standard when making custody and visitation  
               determinations.
           
             e.    Right to community property upon termination of  
            domestic partnership

                This bill would repeal the current provision dealing  
               with joint property of the domestic partnership and  
               instead confer the same rights and obligations on  
               domestic partners, former domestic partners, and  
               surviving domestic partners, that current law confers  
               on married couples.  The current provision requires  
               the partners' property to be apportioned according to  
                                                         any agreement the partners may have had prior to  
               acquisition of the property.  This bill would do away  
               with the need to enter into such agreements, and treat  
                                                                       




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               such property as property of married couples would be  
               treated.

             3.    Terminating a domestic partnership would be similar  
               to terminating a marriage

                This bill would provide an expedited or simplified  
               procedure for terminating a registered domestic  
               partnership (similar to a summary dissolution  
               procedure) as well as the normal procedure that  
               requires a petition in superior court (similar to a  
               petition for dissolution, nullity or legal  
               separation).

               a.   Termination by sending notice to the Secretary of  
               State

                  Under existing law, a registered domestic  
                 partnership is terminated by the death of one  
                 partner, by a written notice sent by one partner to  
                 the other that he or she is terminating the  
                 partnership, by the marriage of one partner, or by  
                 the partners no longer having a common residence.   
                 The law requires at least one partner to file with  
                 the Secretary of State a Notice of Termination of  
                 Domestic Partnership, and the partner who provided a  
                 copy of the Declaration of Domestic Partnership to a  
                 third party for the purpose of qualifying for a  
                 benefit to provide a copy of the Notice of  
                 Termination to that third party within 60 days.

                 This bill would repeal this law, and instead create  
                 two procedures for terminating a domestic  
                 partnership.  The first procedure is akin to a  
                 summary dissolution proceeding, which allows married  
                 couples who have marriages of short duration, have  
                 no children, have little or no assets and little or  
                 no debts, and have no real property interests to  
                 simply file a joint petition for dissolution of  
                 their marriage, for which the court enters a  
                 judgment six months later, unless either party  
                 revokes the petition. 

                 AB 205 adopts this summary dissolution proceeding,  
                 including that the parties waive their rights to any  
                                                                       




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                 support from the other and that the legal effect of  
                 this truncated procedure is the same as a judgment  
                 of dissolution of a domestic partnership, except  
                 that the process would substitute for the Notice of  
                 Termination that is filed with the Secretary of  
                 State.  Thus, registered domestic partners who meet  
                 the same requirements as married couples that  
                 qualify for the filing of a summary dissolution may  
                 terminate their partnership simply by filing the  
                 Notice of Termination with the Secretary of State,  
                 avoiding the need to access the courts.

                  Suggested technical amendments:   For clarity and  
                 brevity, the following technical amendments are  
                 suggested:

                 On page 8, strike out line 19 and in line 20 strike  
                 out "pursuant to" and insert:described in 

                 On page 8, strike out line 28 and in line 29 strike  
                 out "pursuant to" and insert:described in

                 On page 8, line 38, strike out "spousal" and before  
                 the period insert: by the other domestic partner

               b.    Termination by judgment of dissolution, nullity  
               or legal separation  

                 This bill would also permit a domestic partner to  
                 terminate a registered domestic partnership by  
                 filing a petition for dissolution or nullity of the  
                 partnership, or a petition for legal separation of  
                 the domestic partners.  The language of the bill  
                 would give registered domestic partners the same  
                 rights and responsibilities as married couples in  
                 this process, except that the residency requirement  
                 (six months in state, three months in county of  
                 residence) would not apply.  All procedures  
                 applicable to the dissolution, nullity, or legal  
                 separation of married persons would otherwise be  
                 applicable to domestic partners, including rights of  
                 appeal and entry of judgment nunc pro tunc.

               c.    Action to set aside the termination of domestic  
               partnership
                                                                       




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                  As in the case with summary dissolutions, this bill  
                 would permit a domestic partner to institute an  
                 action to set aside the termination of the domestic  
                 partnership via the filing of a Notice of  
                 Termination, on the grounds of fraud, duress,  
                 mistake or any other ground recognized in law or  
                 equity.  The court may then set aside the  
                 termination resulting from the filing of the Notice  
                 with the Secretary of State.

                  Suggested technical amendments:   This provision of  
                 the bill [proposed Section 299(b)] is tied to the  
                 Notice of Termination of the domestic partnership  
                 and not to the judgment of dissolution or nullity or  
                 legal separation obtained through a regular petition  
                 in superior court.  The following amendments are  
                 suggested to clean up the language of this  
                 provision.  
                  
                 On page 9, lines 18 and 19, strike out "this  
                 section" and insert: subdivision (b)

                 On page 9, line 20, after "action" insert:in  
                 superior court

                 On page 9, line 22, strike out "shall" and  
                 insert:may  
          
          4.    Legal unions from other jurisdictions to be recognized  
            as domestic partnerships and treated as California  
            registered domestic partners

             AB 205 would recognize legal unions of the same sex that  
            was validly formed in another jurisdiction as  
            substantially equivalent to registered domestic  
            partnerships in the state, whether or not the legal union  
            is called a domestic partnership, and thus accord those  
            legal unions the same status, rights, and obligations.  
           
           5.    Legislative Counsel states AB 205 would not amend  
          Prop. 22

             In an opinion dated March 24, 2003, the Legislative  
            Counsel states that the enactment of AB 205 would not  
                                                                       




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            constitute an amendment of Proposition 22, the California  
            Defense of Marriage Act, which enacted Section 308.5 of  
            the Family Code.  Section 308.5 states that "[o]nly  
            marriage between a man and a woman is valid and  
            recognized in California" and that therefore, AB 205, if  
            enacted, would not require the approval of the voters.  

            The opinion concludes that "nothing in the language of  
            the initiative statute [Family Code Section 308.5], nor  
            in the ballot arguments in support of the initiative,  
            indicates any intent or requirement that the Legislature  
            be limited in its authority to enact new laws regarding  
            the rights and obligations of domestic partners?  
            Therefore, following the enactment of AB 205, the  
            definition of marriage under California law would be  
            unchanged.  Same-sex partners in California would not be  
            allowed to marry but would only be authorized, as they  
            are today, to enter into a domestic partnership.  The  
            procedures and criteria for creating and terminating the  
            two relationships would continue to be different? [AB  
            205] would merely prescribe the rights and obligations  
            that would inure to parties to a domestic partnership.   
            At the same time, the rights and obligations of parties  
            to a marriage would be unchanged."
             
           6.    Application to tax return filing

             As to the filing of a state tax return, this bill would  
            permit registered domestic partners to file either a  
            joint return or file separately by applying the same  
            standards applicable to married couples under federal  
            income tax law.  The staff is informed that the Franchise  
            Tax Board is already in the process of adopting rules  
            relating to this provision.

            This bill will be heard next in the Senate Committee on  
            Revenue and Taxation.
           
           7.    Notices to be sent by Secretary of State; government  
          forms to be conformed

             The bill would require the Secretary of State to send  
            several notices out to registered domestic partners and  
            to provide a notice attached to an application regarding  
            the changes to the domestic partnership law that will  
                                                                       




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            take effect January 1, 2005.  The notice would let  
            registered domestic partners know that unless they  
            terminate their domestic partnership according to the law  
            existing prior to that date, they will be subject to the  
            new provisions governing registered domestic  
            partnerships, and may not terminate their relationship  
            without seeking a court ordered dissolution.

            In addition, this bill would require the Director of the  
            State Department of General Services to provide notices  
            to all state agencies and management personnel that when  
            government forms are revised, appropriate references to  
            domestic partners and domestic partnerships are to be  
            included.
           

           8.   Opponents' concerns 

             Opposition to the bill comes mainly from groups that  
            believe AB 205 is "an attempt to circumvent the will of  
            the majority? of Californians with their overwhelming  
            passage by 62% of Proposition 22." [Letter from  
            Traditional Values Coalition, dated June 26, 2003.]  The  
            California Federation of Republican Women, while  
            recognizing that "AB 205 is not a 'marriage' bill,"  
            acknowledges that AB 205 "sidesteps California Family  
            Code Section 308.5."

            Others add that the financial cost of this bill is  
            significant. "However, in these difficult fiscal times we  
            must point out that the bill will not save the state  
            money, as it claims.  Public and private costs will  
            increase as domestic partners gain government and private  
            job benefits, add divorce proceedings to court costs,  
            seek tax benefits, and incur more health care needs."  
            [Committee on Moral Concerns letter, dated February 13,  
            2003."

            Lastly, the California Catholic Conference, opposes this  
            bill, while pointing out that they had not opposed the  
            earlier bills that recognized domestic partnerships  
            because they were "based on compassion for certain needs  
            of individuals in long term relationships."  The group  
            states that "AB 205 moves beyond those needs to  
            appropriate a battery of rights for which there can be no  
                                                                       




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            justification other than to include same-sex unions in  
            the social and contractual arrangements reserved for  
            marriage.  In effect, this subtly changes the definition  
            of marriage? the people of California recently defended  
            our current definition of marriage as a long-honored and  
            time-tested tradition.  Conversely, to promote same-sex  
            civil unions by granting them the same exalted status  
            that civil marriages enjoy will test the limits of social  
            cohesion in an already fractured and highly complex  
            society.?[AB 205] would open the door to unnecessary and  
            ill-advised changes in public policy."

          9.    Supporter's views

             This bill is supported by a long list of organizations,  
            local governments, public officials, and individuals.  A  
            sampling of their statements follow.

            "By strengthening the legal ties that bind domestic  
            partners, AB 205 will ultimately reinforce the bond of  
            loyalty and responsibility that comes with lifelong  
            companionship.  Granting these rights will further the  
            state's interest in promoting stable and lasting family  
            relationships." [Letter from Lieutenant Governor Cruz  
            Bustamante, dated May 23, 2003.]

            "The state has a significant interest in supporting  
            strong families that are able to support themselves, care  
            for children, access timely medical care, and buy homes.   
            Enabling individuals to responsibly support and protect  
            their families requires that these individuals be given  
            the same legal rights, obligations and protections as  
            families led by married couples." [Letter from the Aids  
            Project Los Angeles, dated February 27, 2003.]

            "AB 205 sets forth clear rights and privileges that will  
            allow individuals who are in committed relationships to  
            take appropriate responsibility and protect their  
            economic rights.  This measure provides the opportunity  
            and avoids the financial and emotional disruptions that  
            occur when legal rights are not clearly provided."  
            [Letter from California School Employees Association,  
            dated June 23, 2003.]

            "We appreciate that the Domestic Partner Rights and  
                                                                       




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            Responsibilities Act of 2003 is a major step forward for  
            California, providing legal protection of families.  The  
            rights, benefits, and obligations that will be extended  
            to domestic partners and their children under AB 205 are  
            vital to those living without such guarantees." [Letter  
            from the First Presbyterian Church of Baldwin Park, dated  
            February 25, 2003.]

          Support:  Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante; Secretary of  
          State Kevin
                 Shelley; Office of the Attorney General; AIDS Legal  
                 Referral Panel;
                 AIDS Project Los Angeles; Alianza Network Services;  
            American Civil
                 Liberties Union (ACLU); American Association of  
                 University Women-California; American Federation of  
                 State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME),  
                 AFL-CIO; Anti-Defamation League; Asian Law Caucus;  
                 Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF);  
                 Being Alive Los Angeles, Inc.; Billy DeFrank LGBT  
                 Community Center; California Commission on the  
                 Status of Women; California Conference of Local AIDS  
                 Directors (CCLAD); California Faculty Association  
                 (CFA); California Independent Public Employees  
                 Legislative Council; California Labor Federation,  
                 AFL-CIO; California National Organization for Women;  
                 California Nurses Association; California School  
                 Employees Association; California State Employees  
                 Association; California State Teachers' Retirement  
                 System; California STD Controllers Association;  
                 California Teachers Association; CAlifornia Women's  
                 Agenda (CAWA); Central American Resource Center;  
                 Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA); City and  
                 County of San Francisco; City of West Hollywood;  
                 Claremont United Church of Christ, Congregational;  
                 Coalition California Welfare Rights Organizations,  
                 Inc.; Coalition LA; Congregational Church of  
                 Belmont; Congregation Kol Ami (West Hollywood);  
                 Congregation Sha'ar Zahav (San Francisco); Consumer  
                 Attorneys of California; Eleanor Roosevelt  
                 Democratic Club; Elections Committee of the County  
                 of Orange (ECCO); Equal Rights Advocates (ERA);  
                 Family Builders by Adoption; First Congregational  
                 Church, UCC (Pasadena); First Presbyterian Church  
                 (Baldwin Park); First Presbyterian Church (Palo  
                                                                       




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                 Alto); Gay & Lesbian Community Services Center of  
                 Orange County; Gray Panthers; Holy Redeemer Lutheran  
                 Church (San Jose); Human Rights Campaign; Human  
                 Rights Watch; Human Rights/Fair Housing Commission  
                 of the City and County of Sacramento; Irvine United  
                 Congregational Church; Japanese American Citizens  
                 League (JACL); Le Mesa Community Church (Santa  
                 Barbara); Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund,  
                 Inc.; Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San  
                 Francisco Bay Area; Legal Aid Society Employment Law  
                 Center; Legal Services for Children, Inc.; Little  
                 Brown Church of Sunol; Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian  
                 Center; Love Sees No Borders (Sunnyvale); Mayor of  
                 the City of Los Angeles; Metropolitan Community  
                 Church Los Angeles; Metropolitan Community Church in  
                 the Valley (North Hollywood); Metropolitan Community  
                 Church of the Coachella Valley; Metropolitan  
                 Community Church of San Francisco; Mexican American  
                 Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Mira Vista  
                 United Church of Christ (El Cerrito); National  
                 Association of Social Workers (NASW-CA); National  
                 Central for Lesbian Rights (NCLR); National  
                 Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ);  
                 National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; National  
                 Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender  
                 Organization; National Organization for Women (San  
                 Fernando Valley - Northeast LA Chapter); Niles  
                 Congregational Church (Fremont); Northminster  
                 Presbyterian Church of El Cerrito; Older Women's  
                 League of California; Our Family Coalition; Out &  
                 Equal Workplace Advocates; Pacific Pride Foundation;  
                 Parkside Community Church (Sacramento); People For  
                 the American Way; Pioneer Congregational Church  
                 (Sacramento); PFLAG-San Francisco; PFLAG-San  
                 Jose/Peninsula Chapter; PFLAG-Ventura County;  
                 Redwoods Presbyterian Church (Larkspur); San Diego  
                 Democratic Club; Santa Barbara County Democratic  
                 Central Committee; Southern California HIV Advocacy  
                 Coalition; Southern California Nevada Conference  
                 United Church of Christ; St. Paul Lutheran Church  
                 (Oakland); Stonewall Democratic Club of Greater  
                 Sacramento; Stonewall Democratic Club of West  
                 Hollywood; Tenderloin Housing Clinic; The Center of  
                 San Diego County; The Lambda Letters Project; The  
                 Sexual Orientation Bias Committee of the Los Angeles  
                                                                       




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                 County Bar Association; Transgender Law Center;  
                 University Lutheran Chapel (Berkeley); Wesley United  
                 Methodist Church (Fresno); West Hollywood Democratic  
                 Club; West Hollywood Presbyterian Church; Zuna  
                 Institute; 916 individuals


          Opposition: California Catholic Conference; Campaign for  
          California Families; 
                   Committee on Moral Concerns; Eagle Forum of  
                   California


                                     HISTORY
           
          Source:  The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender  
                Legislative Caucus and Equality California

          Related Pending Legislation: AB 17 (Kehoe) would prohibit  
                                the state from contracting with a  
                                vendor or contractor that does not  
                                provide the same benefits to domestic  
                                partners of employees that they  
                                provide to spouses of employees.   
                                This bill is also scheduled to be  
                                heard in this Committee today.
                                
                                AB 1082 (Laird) would expand the  
                                coverage of health benefits provided  
                                by a local contracting agency to  
                                those domestic partnerships that  
                                existed prior to January 1, 2000, if  
                                the local agency had adopted a local  
                                definition of domestic partnership  
                                prior to passage of the Domestic  
                                Partnership Act. This bill will be  
                                heard in this Committee on July 8,  
                                2003.

          Prior Legislation: See Background

          Prior Vote:  Asm. Jud. (Ayes 9, Noes 4); Asm. Appr. (Ayes  
                   17, Noes 7); Asm. Flr. (Ayes 41, Noes 32)


                                                                       




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