Rainbow Law has a document package designed to protect same-sex partners in California. We offer 9 unique Affordable Document Packages, Individual Legal Documents and FREE Advance Directives to help protect your rights and the rights of your family. To order a legal document package that complies with California law, hover your mouse over the “Buy A Package” link in the top menu and click on the package that best suits your needs in the drop-down list. If you’re not sure what package is right for you, click this link and we’ll help you figure out what you need.
California recognizes the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry. And because the US Supreme Court overturned parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal government also recognizes LGBT marriages. This means same-sex married couples living in California are eligible for all rights and benefits afforded to heterosexual married couples.
Here’s brief overview on California laws affecting the LGBTQ community:
1 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.
In 2004, Gavin Newsom, mayor of San Francisco, gained national attention when he directed the city-county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in violation of the current state law.In August 2004, the Supreme Court of California annulled the marriages that Newsom had authorized, as they conflicted with state law at that time. Still, Newsom’s unexpected move brought national attention to the issues of gay marriage, solidifying political support for Newsom in San Francisco and in the gay community.
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 5, 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 decided on the ruling on June 26, 2013. Two days later, the lifting of a stay by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit allowed the same-sex marriages to recommence.
To date, sixteen states – CA, CT, DE, HI, IA, IL, ME, MD, MA, MN, NH, NJ, NY, RI, VT, and WA – plus Washington, D.C. have the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.
2 Adoption Law: Same-sex adoption has also been legal statewide since 2003, allowing step adoption and joint adoption between same-sex couples.
3 Anti-Discrimination Law: Extensive protections for LGBT people exist under California law, particularly for housing, credit, labor and/or employment. In addition, sections of In re Marriage Cases not overturned by Proposition 8 include the establishment of sexual orientation as a “protected class” under California law, requiring heightened scrutiny in discrimination disputes. California SB 1234 clarifies protections of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression alongside other classes against hate crimes.
4 Sodomy Law: Laws against consensual sodomy and oral copulation by homosexual, unmarried and married heterosexual couples were repealed in May 1975.
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