Equality California
Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Law Clarifying Rights of Same-Sex Couples Married Outside of California

2010 Press Releases

September 8, 2009

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

Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Law Clarifying Rights of
Same-Sex Couples Married Outside of California

Sacramento – The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Marriage Recognition and Family Protection Act, SB 54, today in a 3-2 vote. The bill, introduced by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by Equality California (EQCA), underscores that same-sex couples married before the passage of Proposition 8 are entitled to full recognition as married spouses in California, regardless of whether they married in California 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."

"We are thrilled with today’s vote and hope the Senate passes this vital bill, which provides much needed clarity for same-sex couples married out of state who deserve to know where their families stand,” said Geoff Kors, Executive Director for Equality California. "However, restoring the freedom to marry is the only way to ensure that all Californians are treated with dignity and fairness.”

Although Proposition 8 prevents California from designating same-sex couples who marry in another jurisdiction on or after Nov. 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.

“When California offered marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2008, spouses who were already married in another state or country were prohibited from re-marrying in California,” said Senator Leno. “Now those couples and their families are in limbo because their rights and protections under law are not clear. This legislation ensures that same-sex couples are protected by existing California law that recognizes all marriages equally, regardless of where they are performed.”

SB 54 will now proceed to the full Senate for a final vote.

To find out more information about EQCA's legislation, visit 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