Tuesday, August 19, 2008

This is the link and citation to the California Supreme Court case:

http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S147999.PDF

In re Marriage Cases, 43 Cal.4th 757, 183 P.3d 384 (Cal.,2008)

During the debate over the previously proposed Arizona Constitutional Amendment, the opposition claimed that the wording of the amendment would impact “domestic partners” and deny them fundamental services such as insurance and welfare benefits. Since the proposition was defeated we will never know if the wording would have that effect.

The previous Arizona ballot measure read as follows:

TO PRESERVE AND PROTECT MARRIAGE IN THIS STATE, ONLY A UNION BETWEEN ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN SHALL BE VALID OR RECOGNIZED AS A MARRIAGE BY THIS STATE OR ITS POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS AND NO LEGAL STATUS FOR UNMARRIED PERSONS SHALL BE CREATED OR RECOGNIZED BY THIS STATE OR ITS POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS THAT IS SIMILAR TO THAT OF MARRIAGE.

Ariz. Sec'y of State, 2006 General Election Ballot Measures, Proposition 107, § 1 (2006), available at http:// www. azsos. gov/ election/ 2006/ general/ ballotmeasures. htm (follow ballot number 107 full text hyperlink) [hereinafter Proposition 107].

In the more recent Arizona and California measures, the objectionable language has been removed. In any event, the California Supreme Court contradicts the arguments that passage of either measure would impact the services available to domestic partners. The California Court states:

Although California statutes always have limited and continue to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, as noted at the outset of this opinion California recently has enacted comprehensive domestic partnership legislation that affords same-sex couples the opportunity, by entering into a domestic partnership, to obtain virtually all of the legal benefits, privileges, responsibilities, and duties that California law affords to and imposes upon married couples. The recent comprehensive domestic partnership legislation constitutes the culmination of a gradual expansion of rights that have been made available in this state to same-sex couples who choose to register as domestic partners.”

The California Court reviews the vast extent of the “benefits” extended to domestic partners in California:

In 1999, the Legislature enacted the initial legislation creating a statewide domestic partnership registry. (Stats. 1999, ch. 588, § 2 [adding Fam. Code, §§ 297-299.6].) In adopting this legislation, “California became one of the first states to allow cohabitating adults of the same sex to establish a ‘domestic partnership’ in lieu of the right to marry.” (Holguin v. Flores (2004) 122 Cal.App.4th 428, 433.) The 1999 legislation defined “domestic partners” as “two adults who have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring.” (§ 297, subd. (a).) In addition to other requirements for registration as domestic partners, the legislation provided that a couple must share a common residence and agree to be jointly responsible for each other’s basic living expenses incurred during the domestic partnership, be at least 3 7 18 years of age and unrelated by blood in a way that would prevent them from being married to each other, not be married or a member of another domestic partnership, and either be persons of the same sex or at least one of the persons must be more than 62 years of age. (§ 297, subd. (b).) The 1999 legislation, however, afforded those couples who register as domestic partners only limited substantive benefits, granting domestic partners specified hospital visitation privileges (Stats. 1999, ch. 588, § 4 [adding Health & Saf. Code, § 1261]), and authorizing the state to provide health benefits to the domestic partners of some state employees (Stats. 1999, ch. 588, § 3 [adding Gov. Code, §§ 22867-22877]). The following year, the Legislature included domestic partners within the category of persons granted access to specially designed housing reserved for senior citizens. (Stats. 2000, ch. 1004, §§ 3, 3.5 [amending Civ. Code, § 51.3].) In 2001, the Legislature expanded the scope of the benefits afforded to couples who register as domestic partners, providing a number of additional significant rights, including the right to sue for wrongful death, to use employee sick leave to care for an ill partner or an ill child of one’s partner, 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 employ stepparent adoption procedures to adopt a partner’s child. (Stats. 2001, ch. 893, §§ 1-60.) In 2002, the Legislature equalized the treatment of registered domestic partners and married spouses in a few additional areas. (See Stats. 2002, ch. 447, §§ 1-3 [amending Prob. Code, § 6401 to provide automatic inheritance of a portion of a deceased partner’s separate property]; id., ch. 412, § 1 [amending Prob. Code, § 21351 to add domestic partners to the list of relationships exempted from the prohibition against being a beneficiary of a will that the beneficiary helped draft]; id., ch. 901, §§ 1-6 [amending various provisions of the Unemp. Ins. Code to provide 3 8 employees six weeks of paid family leave to care for a sick spouse or domestic partner].) Thereafter, in 2003, the Legislature dramatically expanded the scope of the rights of domestic partners in California by enacting comprehensive domestic partnership legislation: the California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003 (hereafter Domestic Partner Act). (Stats. 2003, ch. 421, introduced as Assem. Bill No. 205 (2003-2004 Reg. Sess.).) The Legislature set forth the purpose of this act in section 1 (an uncodified provision) of the legislation, declaring: “This act is intended to help California move closer to fulfilling the promises of inalienable rights, liberty, and equality contained in Sections 1 and 7 of Article 1 of the California Constitution by providing all caring and committed couples, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, the opportunity to obtain essential rights, protections, and benefits and to assume corresponding responsibilities, obligations, and duties and to further the state’s interests in promoting stable and lasting family relationships, and protecting Californians from the economic and social consequences of abandonment, separation, the death of loved ones, and other life crises.” (Stats. 2003, ch. 421, § 1, subd. (a).) Finding that [alternative lifesyle] Californians have formed lasting, committed, and caring relationships with persons of the same sex,” the Legislature concluded that “[e]xpanding the rights and creating responsibilities of registered domestic partners would further California’s interests in promoting family relationships and protecting family members during life crises, and would reduce discrimination on the bases of sex and sexual orientation in a manner consistent with the requirements of the California Constitution.” (Stats. 2003, ch. 421, § 1, subd. (b).) The Legislature further specified that the provisions of the Domestic Partner Act “shall be construed liberally in order to secure to eligible couples who register as domestic partners the full range of legal rights, protections 3 9 and benefits, as well as all of the responsibilities, obligations, and duties to each other, to their children, to third parties and to the state, as the laws of California extend to and impose upon spouses.” (Italics added.) (Stats. 2003, ch. 421, § 15.) To effectuate this legislative purpose, the 2003 Domestic Partner Act amended the existing statutory provisions relating to domestic partnership by adding several entirely new provisions to the Family Code, most significantly section 297.5, which the legislation provided would become operative on January 1, 2005. (Stats. 2003, ch. 421, § 14.) Section 297.5, subdivision (a), provides in broad and sweeping terms: “Registered domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law, whether they derive from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law, or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses.” (Italics added.)

More later...

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