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Davis approves partner benefits

Gov. Davis approved a measure Sunday to expand the rights domestic partners have under California law.

State assembly member Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) sponsored the bill, AB 25, which extends many of the rights of married, heterosexual couples to the same sex domestic partners who are registered with the California Secretary of State’s Office.

Registered domestic partners are recognized by the state, but are only extended some of the rights of traditional married couples. Under California law, domestic partners are defined as “two adults who have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring.”

The rights extended to domestic partners under the new law cover several areas of life including legal responsibility, health care, and child raising.

The law permits a domestic partner to now legally adopt the child of her or his partner as a stepparent. It also extends sick leave, tax benefits, disability pay, and health coverage to domestic partners of employees with health care coverage.

AB 25 also extends inheritance and legal tort rights to domestic partners, as well as allows partners to make medical decisions for each other. This clause is especially pertinent to Bay Area residents because the dog-mauling early death of a local coach, and the public struggle her partner went through to sue the dog’s owners for her partners death.