CA Legislation to Close Gap between Marriage and Domestic Partnership Advances

06/02/2011, by Melanie Nathan
Sacramento – Yesterday, the California State Senate passed legislation that would eliminate a statutory difference and inequity between marriage and domestic partnerships. Authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by Equality California, the Domestic Partnership Equality Act (SB 651) passed in a 23-15 vote. Specifically, the bill would eliminate the requirement that a couple wishing to enter into a domestic partnership must first live together. No such requirement exists for couples planning to marry.

“Because same-sex couples are prohibited from legally marrying in California, we are forced to enact legislation to provide greater equality and security to domestic partners and their families,” said Equality California Interim Executive Director Jim Carroll. “Ultimately, however, domestic partnerships will never offer the dignity and protections of marriage. To ensure people are treated equally under the law, we must restore the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.”

Despite many attempts to close the gap between domestic partnership and marriage, there remain significant inequalities between the two. For example, same-sex partners of public employees are legally denied equal access to long-term care.

“By maintaining different requirements for domestic partners and married couples, California law continues to be inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s ruling that all couples be treated equally,” said Senator Leno. “This bill will remedy those final inequities, including whether couples must live at the same residence. As we inch ever closer to equality, the only way to ensure fair treatment is to allow all loving couples the right to marry. Separate is seldom, if ever, equal.”

For more information on Equality California sponsored legislation, please visit:

Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil rights protections in the nation. Equality California has passed more than 70 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment.

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