Originally published in 2003:
California To Consider Sweeping Domestic Partner Bill
(Sacramento, California) The California legislature will get its first look this week at sweeping reforms that would give gay and lesbian couples most of the same rights as married couples. It stops just short of legalizing gay marriage, and is based on groundbreaking law in Vermont.
The legislation was prepared by Democratic Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg of Los Angeles and the gay and lesbian caucus in the Assembly.
It would rewrite dozens of existing laws covering everything from community property and child support to filing joint state tax returns.
California already has a domestic partner registry, but the new law would expand on that.
“There’s virtually no area of civic life that wouldn’t be impacted,” said Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
Gov. Gray Davis signed the state domestic partner registry bill in 1999. The Democratic governor also signed a bill last fall that allows domestic partners to sue for wrongful death and make medical decisions for incapacitated partners.
But, the new bill makes no mention of the phrase “civil unions.”
“We have stepped back and reconsidered,” said Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco. “We think we will have greater success with the concept of domestic partners, as opposed to the idea of civil unions.”
Polls show that Californians are still opposed to granting gays and lesbians full marriage rights, but support the idea of legalizing their relationships.
There is no indication if Davis would sign the new legislation, or if it has enough support in the Assembly to ensure passage.
Similar legislation died in the Assembly last year.