Opponents File Lawsuit To Block Implementation of Law Expanding Domestic Partner Benefits
As expected, Sen. Pete Knight (R-Palmdale) and the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund yesterday filed a lawsuit in Sacramento County Superior Court seeking to stop enforcement of a law (AB 205) that will expand health coverage and other benefits to same-sex, registered couples, the Los Angeles Times reports (Vogel, Los Angeles Times, 9/23). Gov. Gray Davis (D) on Friday signed the bill into law, which will expand legislation passed in 2001 that allows same-sex couples to register as domestic partners and share benefits such as health insurance and hospital visitation rights. The law, which is scheduled to take effect in January 2005, will allow same-sex couples to take family leave to care for a sick partner, receive a partner's workers' compensation benefits and grant consent for an autopsy or for organ donation. The law will mandate that cities and counties provide health insurance to domestic partners if those same benefits are offered to heterosexual domestic partners; however, it will not extend to same-sex couples rights involving family leave, Medicare, Social Security or veterans' benefits guaranteed to married couples by federal law (California Healthline, 9/22). The suit, which names Davis, Secretary of State Kevin Shelley (D) and other state officials as defendants, alleges that the law is a violation of Proposition 22, a ballot initiative passed in March 2000 that defines marriage as a union only between a woman and a man (Krupnick, Contra Costa Times, 9/23). An analysis earlier this year by the Legislative Counsel's Office determined that the law would not violate Proposition 22, the Sacramento Bee reports (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 9/23). A judge is set to consider a preliminary injunction on Oct. 15; if granted, the state would not be able to prepare to implement the law until the court case is argued, the Times reports (Contra Costa Times, 9/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.