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Sen. Mark Leno bill would close legal gaps between marriage and domestic partnership under California law

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SACRAMENTO – State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, has introduced the Domestic Partnership Equality Act (SB 651).

Sponsored by Equality California, the bill would eliminate a number of inequities that exist between marriage and domestic partnerships under state law.

“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,” Leno said.

“This bill will remedy those final inequities, including the denial of long-term care insurance to domestic partners who are state employees and requirements related to age and whether couples 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,” he said.

There are number significant differences between marriage and domestic partnerships in California including residency, age of consent, confidentiality and the exclusion of domestic partners from long term insurance benefits.

“Because same-sex couples are unfairly and unconstitutionally prohibited from legally marrying in California, we are forced to enact yet another piece of legislation to provide greater equality to and security for same-sex couples and their families,” said Geoff Kors, Equality California executive director.

“However, even with this legislation, there are more than a thousand rights married couples are granted that domestic partners do not have access to. Ultimately, domestic partnerships have never and will never offer the same dignity and protections that come with marriage. To ensure people are treated equally under the law, we must restore the freedom to marry for all Californians.”

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