Governor signs domestic partner bill and other measures
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation Sunday providing about a dozen rights enjoyed by heterosexual married couples to more than 16,000 registered gay, lesbian and senior domestic partners in California.
”This bill marks a stellar advance for lesbians and gays in California,” said its author, Assemblywoman Carole Migden, D-San Francisco.
The bill lets partners who register with the California Secretary of State’s Office make medical decisions for their incapacitated partners, sue for wrongful death, adopt a partner’s child and will property to a partner.
Davis said, ”This bill is about responsibility, respect, and most of all about family – and it’s about time.”
Supporters call Davis’ decision the biggest expansion of domestic partner rights in the country, putting the state alongside Vermont and Hawaii for acceptance of same-sex couples.
Opponents label it an assault on traditional marriage and family values. In March 2000, more than 60 percent of California voters said that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
”In one fell swoop, Gray Davis has cheapened every marriage in the state, undermined the vote of the people, pandered to the special interests, frivolously spent taxpayer money and broken his written promise to the citizens of California,” said Randy Thomasson, director of the Campaign for California Families.
The group rallied in six California cities last week, asking Davis to veto the bill.
The bill, which goes into effect, Jan. 1, also allows an individual to relocate with a domestic partner without losing unemployment benefits, use sick leave to care for a family member and administer a partner’s estate.
Davis signed 13 crime bills Sunday while racing toward a midnight bill-signing deadline, including one to fine adults who leave young children alone in cars.
Davis also signed a bill to make registered sex offenders provide yearly fingerprints, photo and vehicle information. Another allows prosecutors to weigh old drunken driving arrests when trying people arrested again on the same charge.
Current law allows prosecutors to overlook drunken driving arrests more than 10 years old.
The governor also signed a bill cracking down on unlicensed workers who help people who can’t leave their homes. The bill, by Assemblywoman Sarah Reyes, D-Fresno, lets people receiving in-home services know if their worker has been arrested before taking the job.
Davis spent Sunday considering more than 200 bills and was expected to work until the early hours of Monday morning.
”We still have 150,” Davis spokesman Roger Salazar said at midday.
Legislators sent the governor 1,000 bills when they adjourned their 2001 session Sept. 15. Davis had until midnight to sign, veto or let them become law without his signature.
Most bills take effect Jan. 1.
Big decisions still waiting include toughening requirements for handgun buyers. Another bill seeks bigger paychecks for people hurt on the job.
Davis signed a bill to determine if male and female state workers earn the same pay for the same jobs. Another makes it easier for thousands of state lifeguards to prove skin cancer came from their outdoor jobs.
Other bills require that so-called ”big box” warehouse store owners tightly secure merchandise stored on high shelves. The bill, by Sen. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, aims to reduce serious injuries and deaths among customers hit by falling merchandise.
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