BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    ”



                                                                      



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          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                   SB 651|
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                                 THIRD READING


          Bill No:  SB 651
          Author:   Leno (D)
          Amended:  4/25/11
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE  :  3-2, 5/3/11
          AYES:  Evans, Corbett, Leno
          NOES:  Harman, Blakeslee

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  6-2, 5/26/11
          AYES:  Kehoe, Alquist, Lieu, Pavley, Price, Steinberg
          NOES:  Walters, Runner
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Emmerson


           SUBJECT  :    Family law:  domestic partnerships

           SOURCE  :     Equality California


           DIGEST  :    This bill eliminates the requirement that 
          domestic partners have a common residence in order to 
          establish a registered domestic partnership.

           ANALYSIS  :    Existing law provides that in order to 
          establish a domestic partnership, all of the following 
          requirements must be met:

                 Both persons have a common residence.
                 Neither person is married to someone else or is a 
               member of another domestic partnership with someone 
               else that has not been terminated, dissolved, or 
                                                           CONTINUED





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               adjudged a nullity.
                 The two persons are not related by blood in a way 
               that would prevent them from being married to each 
               other in this state.
                 Both persons are at least 18 years of age.
                 Either of the following: (i) both persons are 
               members of the same sex; or (ii) if members of the 
               opposite sex, one or both persons must be over the age 
               of 62. 
                 Both persons are capable of consenting to the 
               domestic partnership. (Fam. Code Sec. 297.)

          This bill eliminates the common residence requirement to 
          establish a domestic partnership.

           Background
           
          The first domestic partnership law in California was 
          enacted in 1999 by AB 26 (Migden), Chapter 588, Statutes of 
          1999.  Among other things, AB 26 created an official 
          domestic partnership registry, provided registered domestic 
          partners hospital visitation rights, and granted health 
          benefits to domestic partners of state employees.  Several 
          bills granting domestic partners additional rights 
          followed.  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 (a) the right to sue for 
          wrongful death; (b) the right to use employee sick leave to 
          care for an ill partner or partner's child; (c) the right 
          to make medical decisions on behalf of an incapacitated 
          partner; (d) the right to receive unemployment benefits if 
          forced to relocate because of a partner's job; and (e) the 
          right to adopt a partner's child as a stepparent.  

          In 2002, several additional bills were enacted granting 
          domestic partners additional rights.  For example, AB 2216 
          (Keeley), Chapter 447, Statutes of 2002, granted a domestic 
          partner inheritance rights if his/her partner dies without 
          a will.  SB 1575 (Sher), Chapter 412, Statutes of 2002,  
          added domestic partners to persons who are exempted from 
          the prohibition on benefiting from a will or trust that 







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          they helped  draft; and SB 1661 (Kuehl), Chapter 901, 
          Statutes of 2002,  granted six weeks of paid family leave 
          to employees to care for a sick spouse or domestic partner. 
           

          The California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities 
          Act of 2003 further expanded the rights of domestic 
          partners and specifically stated that "registered domestic 
          partners shall have the same rights, protections, and 
          benefits, and shall be subject to the same 
          responsibilities, obligations, and duties under the law as 
          are granted to and imposed upon spouses."(AB 205 
          ›Goldberg], Chapter 421, Statutes of 2003.) 

          In 2004, AB 2208 created the California Insurance Equality 
          Act (Kehoe), Chapter 488, Statutes of 2004, which 
          prohibited insurance providers from issuing policies or 
          plans that discriminate against domestic partners and 
          required insurance plans that include coverage of spouses 
          to include the same coverage for domestic partners.  SB 
          1827 (Migden), Chapter 802, Statutes of 2006, created the 
          State Income Tax Equity Act in 2006, which allowed 
          registered domestic partners to file joint income taxes in 
          order to receive the same financial protections afforded to 
          married heterosexual couples.  AB 102 (Ma), Chapter 567, 
          Statutes of 2007, created the Name Equality Act which 
          allowed domestic partners to change their surnames, 
          regardless of gender, upon domestic partnership 
          registration.  Most recently in 2010, AB 2055 (De La 
          Torre), Chapter 590, extended the right to receive an award 
          of unemployment insurance benefits to a person who 
          imminently plans to enter into a registered domestic 
          partnership that the law currently provides for couples who 
          are engaged to be married. 

          This bill eliminates the requirement that registered 
          domestic partners must have a common residence.

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

                          Fiscal Impact (in thousands)

           Major Provisions                2011-12     2012-13    







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           2013-14   Fund  

          Secretary of State                                Minor, 
          absorbable one-time costs                         General
            registration

          Income tax revenue loss                      Unknown; 
          potentially significant                      General
                              revenue loss in excess of $110 - $825
                              per one percent increase in RDPs

          Health benefits     Unknown; potentially significant costs  
          General
            for increased enrolleesof $550 per 100 new RDPs

          Unemployment ins.                       Minor, absorbable 
          costs annually                          Special*  

          *Unemployment Fund

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  5/26/11)

          Equality California (source)
          Association of Certified Family Law Specialists

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    The author's office writes, this 
          bill eliminates an existing difference between domestic 
          partners and married spouses by eliminating the requirement 
          that domestic partners have a common residence.  Existing 
          case law recognizes that while same-sex couples lack the 
          right to enter into a relationship designated as 
          "marriage," they possess the right to the core set of basic 
          substantive legal rights and attributes associated with 
          marriage, including, the opportunity of an individual to 
          establish an officially recognized and protected family 
          possessing mutual rights and responsibilities and entitled 
          to the same respect and dignity accorded a union 
          traditionally designated as marriage.

          The sponsor, Equality California writes "Equality 
          California is proud to sponsor ›this bill], the Domestic 
          Partner Equality Act.  This bill would reduce the legal 
          inequalities under state law that presently exist between 
          marriages and domestic partnerships in California.  In 







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          1999, Equality California sponsored the first of many bills 
          to obtain rights and responsibilities for same-sex couples. 
           That year, California established legal recognition for 
          same-sex relationships for the first time called registered 
          domestic partnerships.  AB 26 (Migden) created a Domestic 
          Partner Registry housed within the California Secretary of 
          State.  This groundbreaking law also established hospital 
          visitation rights for domestic partners, and provided that 
          state and local government employers could offer health 
          care coverage and other benefits to domestic partners.  
          This bill and subsequent bills, now law, sponsored by 
          Equality California, extended many of the same rights 
          enjoyed by married couples to California's same-sex 
          couples; however, differences remain."


          RJG:do  5/27/11   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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