On October 15th, The Human Rights Campaign applauded Gov. Gray
Davis (D) for signing a new history making California law, Assembly Bill
number 25, that offers domestic partners in California a significant and
unprecedented array of benefits. The bill, signed by Davis in a ceremony in
Sacramento on Sunday, puts California, the nations’ largest state, in the
forefront of a growing trend to treat lesbian and gay families with the
dignity and respect they deserve, according to HRC. At the ceremony, Davis
underscored the significance of the new law when he said, “This bill is
about responsibility, respect, and most of all about family – and it’s about
“We salute Gov. Gray Davis for signing the bill into law and
Assemblymember Carole Migden and her fellow legislators for passing this
comprehensive measure,” said Jean Harris, executive director of the
California Alliance for Pride and Equality (CAPE). “Families will finally
have some of the crucial tools necessary to take care of one another in
times of crises and difficult situations.”
“This is a significant leap forward and puts California behind only
Vermont in offering equality and fair treatment to same-sex couples,” said
HRC National Field Director Seth Klbourn. “There are thousands of domestic
partners in California and many more to come who will be helped tremendously
by the wisdom and vision of Davis, Migden, and CAPE’s Harris.”
The law goes into effect, Jan. 1 and also allows opposite-sex
couples to register if one or both partners are over 62 years of age. It
will give registered partners new ways to protect their families and ensures
several basic rights. Key benefits in the new law allow domestic partners
- Make medical decisions in the hospital or act as a conservator.
- Be exempt from state income tax for the health benefits provided to
- Continue health benefits for surviving partners of government
employees and retirees.
- Sue for wrongful death as well as seek damages for negligent
infliction of emotional distress.
- Use sick leave to care for an ill partner or the child of a
- Relocate with a domestic partner without losing unemployment
- File disability benefits on behalf of an incapacitated partner.
- Administer a partner’s estate.
- Bequeath property to a domestic partner using the statutory will.
- Adopt a partner’s child using the stepparent adoption process.
While this law is an definite advance, says HRC, it is also a
reminder that lesbian and gay Americans are still not afforded complete
equality under the law – even in more progressive places such as Vermont or
“While this is the largest expansion of domestic partners rights in
the country – only a handful of protections the state and federal government
offers to married spouses are included in AB 25, over 1,700 are not,” said
Although admittedly imperfect, the law is still widely embraced by
gay and lesbian Californian’s as a move towards equity and fairness, asserts
“It was moving to see California, my home state, take the lead in
affording equality to lesbian and gay families,” said HRC Communications
Director David M. Smith who attended the Sacramento signing ceremony. “I was
honored to be there and participate in this unforgettable event. Today, I am
enormously proud to be a Californian.”
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