Equality California
Senator Leno Announces Bill Clarifying Rights of Same-Sex Couples Married Outside of California

2010 Press Releases

July 2, 2009

CONTACT: Vaishalee Raja, Equality California
PHONE: 916-284-9187 EMAIL: vaishalee@eqca.org

Senator Leno Announces Bill Clarifying Rights of Same-Sex Couples Married Outside of California

Sacramento -- Today Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) announced new legislation, SB 54, sponsored by Equality California (EQCA), which clarifies the rights of same-sex couples married outside of California.

The bill confirms that same-sex couples married outside of California before the passage of Proposition 8 on November 5, 2008, are entitled to full recognition as married spouses in California, regardless of whether they married in-state or out-of-state. That rule is consistent with existing law, including the California Supreme Court's prior holding in In re Marriage Cases that California cannot treat marriages differently based on whether they were performed in-state or out-of-state.

The bill also confirms that same-sex couples married outside of California after November 5, 2008, must be given all of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of spouses under California law, with the sole exception of the designation of "marriage."

"Because Prop 8 has created such a confusing and unequal situation, we are forced to enact legislation to help couples navigate this fundamentally unfair system," said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. "Ultimately, however, we should not have one set of laws for some Californians, and another set of laws for others. To ensure people are treated equally under the law, we must restore the freedom to marry for all Californians."

Although Proposition 8 prevents California from designating same-sex couples who marry in another jurisdiction on or after November 5, 2008, as "married," the Court's decision in Strauss v. Horton requires the state to give those couples all of the substantive protections of marriage.

"Proposition 8 not only creates a separate and unequal category for one minority group of Californians, but also creates confusion for same-sex couples who married outside of California," said Senator Leno. "Since we cannot remedy this confusion by restoring full marriage equality for all Californians, we are forced to clarify the rights and protections afforded to these couples and their families in state law. As defined by the Court, Proposition 8 only denies same-sex couples the official designation of the term "marriage."

The Assembly Judiciary Committee will hear SB 54 in the coming weeks.

To find out more information about EQCA's legislation, visit http://www.eqca.org/legislation.  

Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender-rights advocacy organization in California. In the past decade, EQCA has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil-rights protections in the nation. EQCA has passed over 50 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org