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Domestic partner benefits receive OK in California

EDITORS’ NOTE: The following story replaces the BP story dated 10/17/01 titled “Calif. expands rights for homosexual couples.”

WASHINGTON (BP)–Homosexual partners in California will have some marriage-like benefits beginning next year.

California Gov. Gray Davis signed into law legislation providing several benefits to same-sex couples who register their partnerships with the state. His action followed recent wins in Congress by homosexual rights promoters.

The benefits for domestic partners in the country’s most populous state will include:

— The right to adopt a partner’s child.

— The right to make medical decisions for each other.

— The right to sue for wrongful death.

— The right to relocate with a partner without losing unemployment benefits.

“This bill is about responsibility, respect and, most of all, about family — and it’s about time,” Davis said upon signing the measure Oct. 14.

The new law, which will take effect Jan. 1, also permits heterosexual, unmarried couples to register for the benefits if at least one partner is more than 62 years old.

Pro-family advocates decried the Democratic governor’s action as harmful to families.

“This is not an extension of tolerance but a frontal assault on marriage,” said Robert Knight, director of Concerned Women for America’s Culture and Family Institute. “Now, Californians who believe that homosexuality is harmful and wrong will be required by law to observe and sanction homosexual relationships. This will affect schools, businesses, everybody. This is tyranny masquerading as tolerance.

“The bill even gives senior citizens an incentive to shack up,” Knight said, describing that provision as a “double whammy against marriage.”

“First, they bribe older people to skip marriage, and if they do actually get married, they get hit with the marriage tax penalty. Governments should do everything possible to support marriage, not create incentives to bypass it.”

Critics were especially displeased with Davis’ move in light of a referendum supporting marriage last year. California voters endorsed with a 61 percent majority an initiative defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

In Congress, meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to lift a ban on funds to implement the District of Columbia’s domestic partners measure. The Oct. 11 action followed late September approval by the House of Representatives of the proposal. The House voted 226-194 against an amendment to maintain the prohibition. The D.C. ordinance provides marriage-like benefits for homosexual and unmarried, heterosexual couples.

A panel in the Wichita, Kan., area recently rescinded domestic-partners benefits, however. Commissioners in Sedgwick County voted unanimously Oct. 3 to repeal a decision by county manager William Buchanan to permit health insurance benefits for homosexual and unmarried, heterosexual partners of county employees, according to The Wichita Eagle. The commission’s decision came after citizens deluged members with phone calls protesting Buchanan’s action.