Governor Signs Senator Wiener’s Legislation to Extend Domestic Partnership to Opposite Sex Couples

Current California law allows same sex couples and opposite sex couples age 62 and over to choose domestic partnership instead of marriage; SB 30 extends this choice to all couples
July 30, 2019

San Francisco –  Today, Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) legislation to allow all Californians to register as domestic partners instead of marrying, Senate Bill 30, was signed into law by Governor Newsom. Under current law, only same sex couples and opposite sex couples age 62 and older are eligible for domestic partnerships. SB 30 ends this discrimination.

California’s domestic partnership registry was created in order to allow same sex couples to have their relationships recognized, during a time when they did not have access to marriage. Opposite sex couples - except for seniors, due to issues relating to social security - were excluded from the domestic partnership registry because they had the ability to marry. Now that same sex couples can marry, it makes no sense to limit domestic partnerships to some couples while excluding others.

“In modern society, couples define their relationships in many different ways, not only  through marriage,” said Senator Wiener. “Couples should be able to protect their relationships under the law by registering as domestic partners, without being forced to marry. SB 30 brings long overdue parity to same sex and opposite sex couples.”

Couples may choose to register as domestic partners instead of marrying for a few different reasons. First, domestic partnership may be financially advantageous for some couples. California law treats domestic partners and married individuals identically for tax purposes, while federal law does not recognize domestic partners. Domestic partnerships may avoid the federal “marriage penalty,” may preserve federal need-based benefits, may qualify a couple for the Adoption Tax Credit relating to a second-parent adoption, and may provide immigration benefits.

Second, marriage has historic and cultural connotations that some people may find undesirable. The history of the institution of marriage - including dowries, arranged marriages, sexual regulation of women, the marital rape exemption, limited divorce rights, and exclusions of interracial and same-sex couples - gives some people personal and ideological reasons to eschew marriage in favor of other unions. Domestic partnerships are not associated with traditional gender-differentiated roles. For example, couples are “partners” rather than husbands and wives. Some may find that by entering into domestic partnerships, they are less likely to fall into traditionally prescribed hierarchal gender roles.

SB 30 is about choice, diversity in relationships, and reflecting the reality of modern life.

Full text of the legislation can be found here.