LGBT Rights in California - Recognition of Same-sex Relationships

Recognition of Same-sex Relationships

In 1985, the City of Berkeley became the first governing entity in the state to recognize same-sex couples legally when it enacted its domestic partnership policy for city and school district employees. The term "domestic partner" was coined by city employee and gay rights activist Tom Brougham, and all other domestic partnership policies enacted in the state in the years since are directly modeled after Berkeley's policy.

Through the Domestic Partnership Act of 1999, California became the first state in the United States to recognize same-sex relationships in any legal capacity. As of the 2003 California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act (effective January 1, 2005), domestic partnerships are considered equivalent to legal definitions of recognized and performed same-sex unions in other states of the United States and other nation-states.

Proposition 22, an initiative passed by voters in 2000, forbade the state from recognizing same-sex marriages. This initiative was struck down by the California Supreme Court in In re Marriage Cases, which was then successively struck down by Proposition 8. However, between the time prior to the Supreme Court decision and passage of Proposition 8, the state allowed for tens of thousands of marriage licenses to be issued to same-sex couples. Strauss v. Horton retains the legality of the licenses. Perry v. Schwarzenegger decided that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional due to violations of the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered a stay of the judgement pending appeal.

Movements were underway for a 2012 referendum to repeal Proposition 8 and amend the State Constitution to legalize same-sex marriages. However since February 2012, the organization in charge of acquiring the signatures, Love Honor Cherish, canceled the effort to do so in light of the fact that trial Perry v. Brown going well for the pro-equality side. Perry v. Brown was pending appeal to an en banc review to the U.S Ninth Circuit Court until June 5th, 2012, when the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court refused to review the case with a larger panel of judges. The proponents of the case have 90 days to decide if they want to appeal to the Supreme Court where the case could be eventually resolved within the next year. On December 7, 2012, the US Supreme Court took up the case Perry v. Brown and will decide on the ruling in June 2013. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage in the Perry v. Brown case it could be legalized nationwide, similar to the 1967 Loving v. Virginia US Supreme Court ruled in that case legalizing interracial marriage nationwide.

California has provided benefits to sames-sex partners of state employees since 1999.

Read more about this topic:  LGBT Rights In California

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