As Governor Signs Broad California Domestic Partnership Law, Lambda Legal Releases In-Depth Information and Analysis on How New Protections Will Impact Lesbian and Gay Couples

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September 19, 2003

(San Francisco, Friday, Sept. 19, 2003) - With Gov. Gray Davis set to sign the most sweeping statewide domestic partnership legislation in the nation this evening, Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund today released in-depth resources that outline what the new law means for same-sex couples in California and how their lives will be impacted by the protections it provides.

“Tonight we’re making history in California, and our work now is to deliver this law’s promise to couples throughout the state,” said Jennifer Pizer, Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Western Regional Office in Los Angeles, who played a key role in drafting the legislation. “If they know how to access the protections this new law provides, thousands of families’ lives will be impacted profoundly in many areas.”

The information released by Lambda Legal today includes:

  • An overview of the new law and general recommendations on registering as domestic partners;
  • Background on rights and responsibilities that have already been available to domestic partners under existing law (and will not change under the new law);
  • A detailed listing of protections available under the new law, broken down in categories including employment rights, tax issues, other financial matters, property rights, parental protections, death-related matters and other areas;
  • A breakdown of rights and responsibilities that are available to married couples but that still won’t be available to same-sex couples under the new law, including rights related to immigration, Medicare, Social Security, tax issues and other areas;
  • An overview of how to enter into domestic partnership to access these rights and responsibilities, as well as how to terminate partnerships.

The new law does not take effect until January 1, 2005. “This is a complicated law that people need to know more about, and starting today we’re providing information so that couples all across the state can make decisions over the next 15 months that will make this law a reality in their lives,” said Pizer, who draws on her knowledge from helping draft the legislation, Assembly Bill 205, with Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Jon Davidson for Equality California and Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg and Equality California. “We got involved in drafting this bill because so many of the clients we represent in court could have avoided terrible legal ordeals if protections like this were already in place. This law obviously won’t solve everything, but it’s a huge step forward,” she explained.

For further information, read a guide on existing domestic partnership protections in California (with an amendment sheet), the overview of the new law, and the detailed chart of rights and responsibilities under the new law.

Contact: Fred Shank, 212/809-8585 ext. 267
Jennifer Pizer, 213/382-7600 ext. 223


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