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Senate OK´s Domestic Partners Legislation

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The state Senate has approved a bill that would give registered domestic partners many of the rights and responsibilities enjoyed by married couples.

Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg´s bill would give domestic partners the ability to go to court for child support and alimony, the right to health coverage under a partner´s plan and the ability to make funeral arrangements for a partner.

Opponents say the bill would conflict with Proposition 22, the ballot measure approved by voters in 2000 that defined marriage as applying only to a man and a woman. Senator Pete Knight, the author of Proposition 22, says the legislation redefines marriage to include gay relationships.

The bill was approved 23 to 14 and returns to the Assembly for approval of Senate amendments. A spokesman for Governor Davis says the governor supports the bill and plans to sign it.

22,000 couples since 1999 have registered as domestic partners. Goldberg´s bill would give those couples access to family student housing, bereavement and family care leave, exemptions from estate and gift taxes, child custody and visitation hearings, and health coverage under a partner´s insurance plan.

The bill also extends obligations to domestic partners, such as the responsibility for their partner´s debts. Also, a partner´s income would be considered if the other partner applied for public assistance benefits, and the couple would be required to disclose their relationships to avoid nepotism and conflicts of interest.