HRC Applauds California Gov. Gray Davis For Signing Monumental Bill Offering State Domestic Partners Unprecedented Benefits

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

time.”

“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

to:

  • Make medical decisions in the hospital or act as a conservator.

  • Be exempt from state income tax for the health benefits provided to

    domestic partners.

  • 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

    domestic partner.

  • Relocate with a domestic partner without losing unemployment

    benefits.

  • 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

California.

“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

CAPE’s Harris.

Although admittedly imperfect, the law is still widely embraced by

gay and lesbian Californian’s as a move towards equity and fairness, asserts

HRC.

“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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