BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    





                                                            AB 627


Date of Hearing:  March 29, 1995

                  ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
                      Phillip Isenberg, Chair


         AB 627 (Katz) - As Introduced:  February 21, 1995


 SUBJECT:  This bill provides a statutory scheme for the statewide  
registration of domestic partners. 

                            BACKGROUND

 History.  This bill is a reintroduction of last year's AB 2810  
(Katz).  The bill was vetoed by the governor, who stated that the  
changes in hospital visitation rights, expanded rights in  
conservatorships and in beneficiary designations "can all be made  
without creating in law some substitute for marriage."  (See  
Comment # 2)  The governor signed an executive order in September,  
1994, directing the Department of Health Services to enact  
necessary regulations to clarify patient rights to visitation.
  
 Facts.  According to the 1990 U.S. Census report, there were a  
total of 10,399,700 households in California.  Of these, 495,223  
consist of unmarried couples.  Of the households consisting of  
unmarried couples:

    1) 93% are opposite-sex couples.

    2) 7% are same-sex couples.  

There are 35,218 senior citizen couples in California,  

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approximately 7% of the total number of unmarried partners.

 DIGEST

 Existing law provides a statutory scheme within the Probate Code  
for:

1)  The appointment, description of rights and responsibilities, and  
    termination of appointment of conservators and guardians.

2)  A statutory will with appropriate forms. 

 This bill:

1)  Provides a statutory scheme for the registration of domestic  
    partners.  Most significantly it:

    a)  Defines domestic partners and provides that a domestic  
        partnership shall be established when all of the following  
        occur:

        i)   Both persons have a common residence.

        ii)  Both persons agree to be jointly responsible for each  
             other's basic living expenses during the domestic  
             partnership.

        iii) Neither person is married or a member of another  
             domestic partnership.

        iv)  The two persons are not related by blood in a way that  
             would prevent them from being married to each other in  
             this state.


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        v)   Both persons are at least 18 years of age.               
                

        vi)  Both persons file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership  
             (DDP) with the Secretary of State.

    b)  Provides for the registration of domestic partners with the  
        Secretary of State by:  (i) requiring the Secretary of State  
        to provide forms for establishing and terminating domestic  
        partnerships and (ii) allowing the Secretary of State to  
        establish, regulate and charge fees for the actual costs of  
        processing the above forms.

    c)  Prohibits a person from filing a new DDP until at least six  
        months after the date that a Notice of Termination of  
        Domestic Partnership (NTDP) has been filed with the  
        Secretary of State (unless the previous domestic partnership  
        ended as a result of the death of one of the partners).

    d)  Provides for the termination of a domestic partnership when:  
        (i) one partner sends to the other, written notice that he  
        or she is terminating the partnership, (ii) one partner  
        dies, (iii) one of the partners marries, or (iv) when the  
        partners no longer have a common residence.

    e)  Requires that, upon termination, at least one of the  
        partners file an NTDP with the Secretary of State.

    f)  Requires a partner, who receives a benefit or right from a  
        third party because of the existence of the domestic  
        partnership, within 60 days of termination of the  
        partnership, to give or send a copy of the NTDP to the third  
        party and provides that a third party who suffers a loss due  
        to the failure of a partner to so notify, may seek damages  

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        against  that partner.
        
2)  Requires health facilities to allow a patient's domestic  
    partner, the children of the patient's domestic partner, and the  
    domestic partner of a patient's parent or child to visit with  
    the patient.

3)  Adds reference to domestic partners to the numerous references  
    to a spouse, other relatives or the spouses of other relatives  
    throughout the Probate Code provisions regarding Conservatorship  
    and Statutory Wills (e.g., 



















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Probate Code sections providing who shall receive notice of  
proceedings; who may qualify as, or nominate, a conservator; whose  
living expenses may be paid from the estate of a conservatee; and  
who may be named as a beneficiary in a statutory will).  

 FISCAL EFFECT

This bill  will be referred to the Assembly Committee on  
Appropriations.

 COMMENTS

1)   Author's Statement.  The author states:

        While there is much talk today about the need for  
        strong families and family values, most of this  
        talk fails to recognize that there are currently  
        hundreds of thousands of families in California  
        that do not consist of a married couple.  We simply  
        cannot afford to ignore these families.

        In order to promote lasting relationships,  
        responsibility and mutual support in these  
        families, we must recognize their existence and  
        begin to provide them with some of the basic rights  
        that we provide families of married couples.

        By encouraging mutual responsibility between  
        unmarried partners, AB 627 will promote strong,  
        lasting relationships.  By allowing partners to  
        visit each other in the hospital, allowing them to  
        make decisions for each other when one is  
        incapacitated, and making it easier for partners to  
        will each other property, AB 627 will give all  

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        families the right to care for each other in times  
        of crises and need.
        
2)   Previous legislative proposals:  Last session, the author  
    introduced     AB 2810 to do exactly what this bill proposes.   
    AB 2810 was vetoed by the governor who stated:
    
        AB 2810 is unnecessary to achieve its specific  
        aims in terms of hospital visitation,  
        conservatorship, and testamentary disposition.   
        There are already provisions in existing law  
        allowing the naming of any individual as a  
        beneficiary in a will or creating a durable power  
        of attorney.  Therefore, these goals of AB 2810  
        can be achieved by exercising appropriate  
        foresight. 
        
        Furthermore, the changes sought by the bill can  
        all be made without creating in law some  
        substitute for marriage. 

    The governor also stated that government has an obligation to  
    strengthen the institution of marriage, rather than weaken it.  
     The policy of the 






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government should not discount marriage by offering less demanding  
substitute relationships. 

3)   Support.

    a)   The California State Employees' Association (CSEA) states  
        that "(F)amily relationships and living situations have  
        changed in the last few decades."  CSEA is currently  
        investigating offering benefits similar to those contained  
        in AB 627 to state employees.                                 
         

    b)   California Federation of Teachers believes that "the  
        specific procedures for determining domestic partnership  
        outlined in this bill will protect people who are in a  
        domestic partnership by promoting and encouraging mutual  
        responsibility."

        The Federation is supportive of the provisions regarding  
        hospital visitation rights, conservatorship rights and the  
        process for termination of partnerships.

    c)   California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, believes that AB 627  
        "would prove useful to our affiliates who bargain over  
        benefits for domestic partners by providing an official  
        standard for defining domestic partners."  The Federation is  
        supportive of the establishment of clear rights regarding  
        crisis care for domestic partners.

3)   Opposition.
 
    a)   The Committee on Moral Concerns (CMC) opposes AB 627 because  
        it believes the recognition of domestic partnerships  
        devalues true family commitment and lends an air of  

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        legitimacy to the "most dangerous lifestyle in America."

        CMC notes that there are three categories of people who will  
        use the provisions of this bill:

        i)   The most numerous group would likely be homosexual and  
             lesbian couples.  As it relates to them, there is no  
             primary caretaker/primary breadwinner relationship as  
             with married couples.  Each already is free and able to  
             get his or her own job, write their own will and live  
             with whom they please.  For this group there is no need  
             for this bill.

        ii)  The second group would be heterosexual couples.   
             However, if these are unwilling to commit to each other  
             in a real marriage, the taxpayer-supported state  
             government should not commit to their relationship  
             either.

        iii) The last group would be roommates.  It would be a  
             violation of the constitutional right to privacy to  
             attempt to determine the intimacy level of roommates to  
             see if they fall into one of the 







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first two categories.  Therefore, they could also be covered by one  
of various domestic partner job benefits that would be sure to  
follow this bill.

    b)   Capitol Resource Institute in its California Citizen  
        publication dated November, 1994, believes the bill  
        legitimizes homosexual relationships while claiming that  
        it would assist senior citizens.  The institute claims  
        that in Sacramento, not one senior citizen has applied  
        since the domestic partners ordinance was adopted two  
        years ago.

    c)   Family Research Council believes that the promulgation of  
        any legislation conferring benefits on same-sex couples  
        should be opposed because the entire social fabric of  
        America will be unraveled.    

4)   Suggested amendment.  Committee staff recommends the following  
    amendment:

    a)  Page 5, delete lines 25 through 31, inclusive, and replace  
    with:
                                                                  
i)  One of the domestic partners dies.

        ii)  Either partner files a Notice of Termination of  
    Domestic         Partnership with the Secretary of State.

    As drafted, the termination date for a domestic partnership  
    (other than when terminated by death) is ambiguous.  As  
    subdivision (c) requires notification to third parties  
    providing benefits based upon the existence of the domestic  
    partnership within 60 days of termination, it is necessary   
    that the date of termination be a clearly fixed date.

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    AB 627 now provides termination by marriage.  This requires  
    that the domestic partnership, in fact, be terminated at some  
    time prior to the point at which one of the partners marries  
    someone else.  Thus, the 60 days should run from the date the  
    actual domestic partnership ended, not from the date of a  
    marriage.  

    AB 627 further provides termination of the domestic  
    partnership upon written notice to the other partner.  This  
    does not clearly define if the termination of the domestic  
    partnership is when the notice is sent or when it is received.  
     Again, this does not provide a clearly fixed date from which  
    to compute the 60 day notice requirement.

    By amending the bill to provide that, other than upon death,  
    termination of the domestic partnership occurs only upon  
    filing an NTDP with the Secretary of State, there is a clear  
    date upon which the rights and responsibilities of both  
    partners and any third parties may be determined.

 SUPPORT                                OPPOSITION

Older Women's League of California    The Committee on Moral  
    Concerns
California Federation of Teachers     Family Research Council
California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO  Capitol Resource Institute
California State Employees' AssociationTraditional Values  
    Coalition
United Transportation Union           Numerous letters from  
    individuals
Congress of California Seniors
Developmental Disabilities Board - Area XIII
Gray Panthers, Central and East Contra 

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                                                            AB 627

  Costa Counties
Gray Panthers of Long Beach
International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace
  and Agricultural Implement Workers of America - UAW
Women's Commission of Santa Cruz County
Rabbi Lennard P. Thal, Union of American Hebrew
  Congregation, Pacific Southwest Council
Mark Shier, Rector, Saint Andrews Episcopal Church
First Unitarian Universalist Church
UAW Region Five
American Jewish Congress, Northern Pacific Region
American Jewish Congress, Pacific Southwest Region
Congregation Kol Ami
St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco
West Hollywood Presbyterian Church
California Nurses Association
AIDS Project, Los Angeles
Mardi Wormhoudt, Supervisor, County of Santa Cruz
Unity Pride Coalition, Ventura County
California Senior Legislature
Commission on Aging
TACC Triple-A Council of California
Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Community Services Center
California Church Impact
Warner Bros Studios Facilities
Numerous letters from individuals





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