Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Gotta love those activist judges!

Firms must treat domestic partners like married pairs, top state court says
Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, August 2, 2005
California businesses must treat same-sex domestic partners the same as married couples, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday in the case of a golf club that denied a family membership to a lesbian couple.

The unanimous ruling was the court's first on the state's domestic partner law, which took effect this year and granted to registered partners most of the rights of spouses under state law.

Jon Davidson, legal director of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and lawyer for the couple in the case, called the ruling "an important recognition of our humanity.''

While it was a victory for the 27,000 couples who have registered with the state as domestic partners, it fell short of the broad anti-discrimination mandate sought by their advocates.

The justices crafted a narrow decision and sidestepped arguments by Davidson and other gay-rights lawyers that a business policy favoring married couples discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation -- similar to arguments raised in a separate case challenging California's ban on same-sex marriage. There was no need to address that issue in this case, the court said Monday, because no evidence was offered that the golf club's policy was intended to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Instead, the justices said the Unruh Act, a California law requiring businesses to treat customers equally, prohibits discrimination against registered domestic partners.

California first established a registry for domestic partners -- same- sex couples of any age and opposite-sex couples in which one partner is older than 62 -- in 1999. The law at first provided only limited benefits, including the right of hospital visitation, but was expanded this year to become the broadest such measure in the nation. It grants the equivalent of spousal status, except for joint tax filing under state law and the numerous rights of married couples under federal law. Monday's ruling extended the requirement of equal treatment to businesses.

Two initiatives being circulated for next year's state ballot would repeal the domestic partner law and also would write California's current ban on same-sex marriage into the state Constitution, derailing a case now on its way to the state's high court.

Monday's decision "raises the stakes in the pending initiatives, those that are preserving marriage along with the essence of marriage,'' said attorney Matthew Staver of Liberty Counsel, which represents sponsors of one of the proposed ballot measures.

The rest of the article here

1 comment:

Mwalimu Daudi said...

"...same-sex domestic partners..."

Sounds so sterile and business-like. That's modern sex for you.

The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
Or the Shellfish blog...