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An Aisle Seat - Same Sex Partners' Rights in Ca.
by Kirsten Anderberg (sheelanagig [at] juno.com)
Wednesday Sep 24th, 2003 7:43 AM
Ca. is leading the way, with AB 205, just passing, to give registered domestic partners many of the same state rights as legally married couples...
An Aisle Seat—Same-Sex Partnerships and America
By Kirsten Anderberg Copyright 2003
(First published in Oct. 2003, The Manifesto News, (http://www.manifestonews.org), Monterey/Santa Cruz, Ca.)

What are the differences between registered same-sex domestic partnerships, and legally married couples, in California? The major areas of inequity, and concern, to same-sex partners include those of child custody and child/spousal support, rights to make funeral arrangements, community property rights, mutual responsibility for debts. And those civil rights will finally be accessible to registered same-sex domestic partners now that Measure AB 205 (Goldberg, Los Angeles) passed in the California legislature (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/bilinfo.html).

Measure AB 205, the Domestic Partnership Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003, was first proposed by Equality California, (http://www.eqca.org), a grassroots organization with offices in Sacramento, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Equality California says that one in every six same-sex couples reside in California, and promoted this as an issue of importance to the populace and legislature of California. But this legislation will also be a landmark regarding equal rights for same-sex couples in the US. The Massachusetts Supreme Court is also handing down a decision on Same Sex Marriage very shortly. This is quickly spreading to become a national issue, and California is leading the way. Since the inception of the same-sex and senior opposite-sex couples registry in California three years ago, 20,000 couples have registered. AB 205 will give that registry some backbone. Unfortunately, these changes will only affect California state benefits. Federal benefits for same-sex partners are still not recognized.

At the heart of this "marriage rights versus same-sex domestic partnership rights" controversy, is whether same-sex couples want religious or civil confirmation of their partnerships. Many argue that marriage is a religious sacrament and that gay marriages cannot have religious context. Others argue same-sex partners aren’t seeking religious confirmation of their partnership, but rather the same civil rights, the same legal rights, as married couples.

Marriage Equality California (MECA), (http://www.marriageequalityca.org), has joined the organizations at the forefront of activism, to push for fairness and equality regarding same-sex partnerships in California. Santa Cruz and Monterey both launched chapters of MECA in August. According to Owen Wolf, co-chair of Santa Cruz MECA (santacruz [at] marriageequalityca.org), their goal is to converse one on one, and explain the harm that the "lack of a legally recognized contract between two adults of the same sex who wish to form a long lasting, loving relationship does to same sex couples and their families." This is a growing national issue, and one that we will see challenging America's "family values" and entrenched homophobia. As a matter of fact, a gay couple, who are recognized as married in Canada, were just denied entry into the United States, in September 2003, because they filled out their forms for entry into the United States as a "family." We are going to hear more and more about this issue, as people have outgrown the archaic laws in this area.

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