California Couples PDF Print E-mail

Same sex couples in California face an often confusing collage of legal status when dealing with issues that are clearly delineated in the family law for traditional married couples. It is the only state that after granting licenses for same sex marriages subsequently discontinued the practice. This is the result of a series of legislative acts, executive actions, ballot initiatives and court rulings from the year 2000 Proposition 22 that defined the union of a man and a woman as the only valid or recognizable form of marriage in the State of California to the 2010 federal district court decision that Proposition 8 violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the federal constitution. While gaining many rights for same sex couples during the decade sex couples are currently denied the right to a traditional marriage in California.

Same Sex Married Couples in California

Same-sex couple marriages performed in California from June 16, 2008 up to November 5, 2008 are treated as valid marriages for California purposes. Pursuant to The Marriage Recognition and Family Protection Act of 2009, same-sex marriage outside the State of California prior to November 5, 2008, that was valid in the jurisdiction where the marriage was performed, is valid in California. It also provides that a same-sex marriage outside the State of California on or after November 5, 2008 have the same rights and responsibilities as spouses with the sole exception of the designation of "marriage."

Domestic Partnership in California

California enacted the domestic partnership registry in 1999. Rights under the act were initially limited to such basics as hospital-visitation rights and the right to be claimed as a next of kin of the estate of a deceased partner. These rights have been expanded by the California legislature over the years to include the rights and responsibilities found in traditional marriage. However, federal law does not recognize domestic partnerships and often countries that recognize domestic partnership formed in their own countries do not recognize those formed in California. Also, there may be instances where domestic partnerships contracted in other states are not valid in California as is the case with domestic partners from the State of Maine.

Same Sex Parenting in California

California law, through legislation and court rulings, has conferred the rights and responsibilities of parenthood based on intent and psychology rather than biology, adoption, or marriage. This applies to unions regardless of sexual composition. California law also uses same presumptions for adults in same-sex and different-sex relationships who raise children together. This applies to adoption as well as custody and support cases.



Elizabeth F. Courtney
Attorney at Law
489-A Central Avenue
Upland CA 91786