(San Francisco, CA, April 4, 2005) — Today, the Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District in Sacramento upheld the validity of AB 205, the comprehensive domestic partnership law enacted by the California Legislature in 2003, and rebuffed efforts to attack the law by extreme rightwing groups. The ruling arose in the context of two lawsuits, one filed by the late Senator Pete Knight and the other by the Campaign for California Families (CCF), arguing that the new law violates Proposition 22, the ballot initiative approved by the voters in 2000.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) is co-counsel on behalf of the defendant-intervenor couples and Equality California, with the Law Office of David C. Codell in Los Angeles, the ACLU, and Lambda Legal. Equality California was the official sponsor of AB 205 and intervened to defend it. The Court held that domestic partnership is not marriage, and that the voters did not intend to prohibit the legislature from extending legal protections to domestic partners when they enacted Proposition 22 in 2000, which prohibits California from recognizing marriages of same-sex couples from other states.
“This is a resounding victory for fairness and equality,” said Kate Kendell, Executive Director of NCLR. “Domestic partnership is not marriage, and the Court soundly rejected the tortured efforts of extreme rightwing groups to distort the language of Proposition 22 to strike down validly enacted legislation protecting lesbian and gay people and their families. The voters in this state overwhelmingly support providing equal rights and benefits to same-sex couples. The notion that AB 205 violates the will of the people in this State is absurd, and the Court of Appeal rightly rejected it.”
The ruling today upheld the decision of San Francisco Superior Court Judge Loren McMaster, who upheld the validity of AB 205 in a decision issued on September 8, 2004.
Since it went into effect on January 1, 2005, A.B. 205 has provided registered domestic partners in California with many additional basic protections and responsibilities including: community property, mutual responsibility for debt, parenting rights and obligations such as custody and support, and the ability to claim a partner’s body after death. The law does not allow for joint tax filing and certain other protections under state law, and does not provide access to over 1,000 federal protections that married couples enjoy.
“Today’s ruling is another victory for the tens of thousands of lesbian and gay couples in California who now have the assurance their families will have the protections provided by this widely supported law,” said Courtney Joslin, staff attorney for NCLR.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.