Press Room

February 12, 2004

Category: Domestic Partners

HRC Commends San Francisco Mayor for Efforts to Protect All Committed Couples Equally

Press Release TextHard-Working, Tax-Paying GLBT Citizens Deserve the Same Rights and Protections under Law as Other Citizens, Says HRC

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign today commended San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom for working to ensure that all citizens are protected equally under law by seeking to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

"We commend Mayor Newsom for acting in his sworn constitutional duty to protect all the citizens of his county equally," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "Marriage - and only marriage - has the potential to grant full legal protections to same-sex couples in lifelong, committed relationships."

In September 2003, the California Legislature passed and Gov. Gray Davis signed A.B. 205 - a broad measure that will provide couples who are registered as domestic partners with some basic protections such as the right to make funeral arrangements, to jointly own property, to authorize medical treatment for one another, to provide financial support during and after a relationship and to shoulder mutual responsibility for debts. Because the measure does not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2005, same-sex couples in the state currently lack those critical protections. Even when the law does go into effect, these partnerships will not be recognized across state lines and will not grant any of the 1,049 federal benefits, rights and obligations extended to married couples. These include important rights like Social Security survivor benefits and the ability, upon the loss of a job, to continue a partner's health care coverage under COBRA.

"Simply put, civil unions and domestic partnerships create a separate and unequal status for same-sex couples," added Jacques. "While these laws may be a step forward in the fight for fairness, the ultimate goal is full equality under the law."

According to an analysis of 2000 Census data, the average same-sex couple with children in California is raising 2.01 children, while other average couples are raising 2.08 children. Without the right to marry, these children's parents are denied the right to Social Security survivor benefits that help care for minors upon the loss of a parent.

"Denying these parents the security that married couples get when something happens to their opposite-sex spouse does nothing to ensure security for the children of lesbian and gay couples," added Jacques. "Same-sex couples live in every single county in California and make important contributions to these communities. They pay taxes, they work hard and they deserve nothing less than equality."

The frequency of same-sex couples and other couples in California in binational relationships is also similar, with 10.6 percent of same-sex couples and 11.3 percent of other couples in binational relationships. Without the right to marry, same-sex couples - unlike married opposite-sex couples - are unable to sponsor their partner for immigration purposes.