BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    


          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                   AB 205|
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                                 THIRD READING

          Bill No:  AB 205
          Author:   Goldberg (D), et al
          Amended:  8/21/03 in Senate
          Vote:     21

           SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE  :  5-1, 7/1/03
          AYES:  Escutia, Cedillo, Ducheny, Kuehl, Sher
          NOES:  Ackerman
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Morrow

           SENATE REVENUE & TAXATION COMMITTEE  :  4-3, 7/9/03
          AYES:  Cedillo, Alpert, Bowen, Burton
          NOES:  Poochigian, Ashburn, Knight

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  7-4, 8/25/03
          AYES:  Alpert, Bowen, Escutia, Karnette, Machado, Murray,  
          NOES:  Battin, Aanestad, Johnson, Poochigian
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Ashburn, Burton, 

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR :  41-32, 6/4/03 - See last page for vote

           SUBJECT  :    Domestic partnerships:  rights and  

           SOURCE  :     The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender  
                      Equality California (EQCA)

           DIGEST  :    This bill enacts the California Domestic Partner  


                                                                AB 205

          Rights and Responsibilities  Act of 2003.  Specifically,  
          this bill (1) recasts 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 (2) on and  
          after January 1, 2005, extends 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.  

           ANALYSIS  :    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.  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 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 expands the rights of and impose responsibilities  
          on registered domestic partners, similar to the rights and  


                                                                AB 205

          responsibilities conferred on married couples by state law.  

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

          This bill makes these changes effective on January 1, 2005,  
          requires the Secretary of State on three separate occasions  
          to inform domestic partners of these changes, and requires  
          the State Department of General Services (DGS)  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.

           New Rights and Responsibilities

           This bill provides that, effective January 1, 2005, (1)  
          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, (2) former domestic partners would have  
          the same rights and obligations that former spouses now  
          have, and (3) surviving domestic partners shall have the  
          same rights, protections and benefits as are granted to a  
          surviving spouse of a decedent.

          This bill grants 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  


                                                                AB 205

          partners, former partners, or surviving partner.

          Some of the rights and obligations, as applied to domestic  

          1. The right to financial support during and after the  
             relationship has terminated.

          2. 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.

          3. 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  

          4. 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  

          5. 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.

          6. The mutual responsibility for debts to third parties  
             incurred during the partnership.

          7. Protection from discrimination in housing and  
             employment, and entitlements to benefits accorded  
             spouses of employees or applicants.

          8. The right to exercise the "marital communication"  
             privilege, as provided by the Evidence Code.

          9. The right to receive government-provided or  
             government-regulated benefits, such as workers'  
             compensation, public assistance, transfer of licenses  
             upon death of a domestic partner.

          10.         The ability to apply for an absentee ballot for  


                                                                AB 205

             a partner.

          11.         The ability to make legal claims that are  
             dependent on family status, such as claims against  
             victims' compensation funds.

          12.         The fiduciary nature of the partner's duties  
             towards each other.

          13.         Other rights and responsibilities derived from  
             case law, government regulation or policy.

          This bill provides, however, that in filing their state  
          income tax returns, domestic partners are required to use  
          the same filing status as is used on their federal income  
          tax returns, or that would have been used had they filed  
          federal income tax returns.  Earned income may not be  
          treated as community property for state income tax  

           Right to Community Property upon Termination of Domestic  

           This bill repeals 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 does  away with  
          the need to enter into such agreements, and treats such  
          property  the same as property of married couples is  

           Similarity of Termination of Domestic Partnership to  
          Termination of Marriage

           This bill provides 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  


                                                                AB 205

          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 repeals this law, and instead creates 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, in this case, less than five years, 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.
          This bill adopts this summary dissolution proceeding,  
          including that the parties waive their rights to any  
          support from the other domestic partner 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 substitutes 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.

          This bill also permits 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 gives registered domestic partners the  
          same rights and responsibilities as married couples in this  


                                                                AB 205

          process, except that the residency requirement (six months  
          in state, three months in county of residence) does 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.

          As in the case with summary dissolutions, this bill permits  
          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.
           This bill recognizes 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 accords those legal unions the same  
          status, rights, and obligations.  

           Legislative Counsel Bureau states AB 205 does not amend  
          Proposition 22

           In an opinion dated March 24, 2003, the Legislative Counsel  
          Bureau states that the enactment of this bill does not  
          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, this bill, if enacted, does  
          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  


                                                                AB 205

          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."

          This bill requires 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 take effect  
          January 1, 2005.  The notice lets 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  

          In addition, this bill requires the Director of DGS 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.

          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 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  


                                                                AB 205

          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, granted 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) of 2001 established civil unions for  
          domestic partners in California, but the bill was held in  
          the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

           Related Legislation  

          AB 17 (Kehoe) prohibits 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 in the  
          Senate Appropriations Committee.
          AB 1082 (Laird) expands 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 is on the Senate Floor.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes    
          Local:  Yes

          According to the Senate Appropriations Committee:

                          Fiscal Impact (in thousands)

             Major Provisions                2003-04     2004-05     
             2005-06               Fund  



                                                               AB 205


            PERS-State          -------minor, if any  
            increase--------    PERF
              retirement & death

            Health benefits                


            SOS notifications             minor     --         

            Local mandate       --Unknown, offset by filing  

            Courts              --Unknown, offset by filing  

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  8/27/03)

          The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Legislative  
             Caucus (co-source)
          Equality California (EQCA) (co-source)
          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 
          American Association of University Women-California
          American Federation of State, County, and Municipal  
          Employees, AFL-CIO
          Anti-Defamation League
          Asian Law Caucus
          Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom 
          Being Alive Los Angeles, Inc.
          Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center
          California Commission on the Status of Women


                                                                AB 205

          California Conference of Local AIDS Directors 
          California Faculty Association 
          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 
          Central American Resource Center
          Chinese for Affirmative Action
          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 
          Equal Rights Advocates 
          Family Builders by Adoption
          First Congregational Church, UCC (Pasadena)
          First Presbyterian Church (Baldwin Park)
          First Presbyterian Church (Palo 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 
          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


                                                                AB 205

          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  
               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, California
          National Central for Lesbian Rights 
          National Conference for Community and Justice 
          National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
          National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender  
          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  
          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


                                                                AB 205

          The Sexual Orientation Bias Committee of the Los Angeles  
             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  :    (Verified  8/27/03)

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

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT :    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."  


                                                                AB 205

            [Letter from California School Employees Association,  
            dated June 23, 2003.]

            "We appreciate that the Domestic Partner Rights and  
            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.]

           ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION  :    Opposition comes mainly from  
          groups that believe this bill 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 this bill "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 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.   


                                                                AB 205

          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  

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  : 
          AYES:  Berg, Bermudez, Calderon, Canciamilla, Chan, Chu,  
            Cohn, Corbett, Diaz, Dutra, Dymally, Firebaugh, Frommer,  
            Goldberg, Hancock, Jackson, Kehoe, Koretz, Laird, Leno,  
            Levine, Lieber, Liu, Longville, Lowenthal, Montanez,  
            Mullin, Nakano, Nation, Negrete McLeod, Nunez, Oropeza,  
            Pavley, Ridley-Thomas, Simitian, Steinberg, Vargas,  
            Wiggins, Wolk, Yee, Wesson
          NOES:  Aghazarian, Bates, Benoit, Bogh, Campbell, Cogdill,  
            Cox, Daucher, Dutton, Garcia, Harman, Haynes, Shirley  
            Horton, Houston, Keene, La Malfa, La Suer, Leslie,  
            Maddox, Maldonado, Maze, McCarthy, Mountjoy, Nakanishi,  
            Pacheco, Plescia, Richman, Runner, Samuelian, Spitzer,  
            Strickland, Wyland

          RJG:mel  8/27/03   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

                                ****  END  ****