Assembly bills aimed to counter Proposition 22
The definition of the traditional American family no longer refers to white picket fences, stay-at-home mothers and bread-winning fathers.
Gays and lesbians believe they deserve to be included as family members with equal rights.
After Proposition 22 passed March 7 – a proposal that banned same-sex marriages in California – lawmakers recognized the need for domestic partner family rights.
On Tuesday, the Assembly Judiciary Committee passed three bills that, if made into law, would give same-sex couples more basic rights.
The bills are all sponsored by the California Alliance for Pride and Equality.
“It’s excellent,” said Eli Stevenson, gay and lesbian outreach educator. “If people are treated equally it is really all that matters.”
Stevenson doesn’t see why new laws must be pursued for fundamental rights of individuals but is nonetheless happy that the issue is receiving legislative attention to counteract Proposition 22. She thinks that, with education, “gayisms” and the fear behind them can disappear once and for all.
The three Assembly bills:
n AB 2211, authored by Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, would include domestic partners in statutory wills. It also entitles registered domestic partners to bring a cause of action and seek damages for emotional distress and wrongful death – the same rights married couples receive under California law.
The legislation would give domestic partners the right to conservatorship and allows same-sex partners to make funeral arrangements and autopsy decisions on behalf of their partner.
“This bill simply provides families with a few essential tools needed to manage the incapacitation or death of a domestic partner,” Kuehl said at a press conference.
n AB 1990 would include domestic partners in the definition of a family member. This would enable them to make medical decisions on behalf of their partner if the partner is unable to make his or her own decisions regarding health.
“These bills are simply a matter of fairness,” Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, author of AB 1990 said.
Romero’s bill places registered domestic partners in line for inheritance if a partner dies without a will.
n AB 2047, written by Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, would allow for the partner to become the administrator of the deceased partner’s estate.
Stevenson had some concerns about the registered partner portion of the proposed bill.
Andrea Jackson, who is on Steinberg’s staff, explained that forms must be obtained for a nominal fee from the California Secretary of State’s office, notarized and returned to the office for registration.
“Californians are supportive of domestic family rights. Even the proponents of Proposition 22 claimed that they supported domestic partner benefits,” Steinberg said after the bills passed.
The bills will now go on to the Senate for a vote.
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