Equality California
Governor Signs EQCA-Sponsored Bill To Help Protect Surviving Same-Sex Partners
September 29, 2012

CONTACT: Steve Roth, OutThink Partners
PHONE: 323-951-0059 EMAIL: steve@outthinkpartners.com

Governor Signs EQCA-Sponsored Bill To Help Protect Surviving Same-Sex Partners

(San Francisco) Governor Jerry Brown today signed AB 1700, legislation that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seniors from undue property tax increases that may result in the loss of their homes after the death of a partner. The bill, authored by Assemblymember Betsy Butler (D-53), passed the State Senate 34-1 with broad, bipartisan support.

"This law protects co-owners of property who have purchased a home together and depend upon each other for financial support," said Assemblymember Butler. "It is simply unfair to place an extra burden on homeowners who are not married when the death of a co-tenant endangers the ability of the survivor to stay in his or her home. I'm proud to make California a more equitable state."

"We are pleased that Governor Brown recognized that the loss of a beloved partner is devastating and should not come with the added burden of a dramatic increase in taxes for individuals on a fixed income or, worse, the trauma of losing one's home," said Clarissa Filgioun, Equality California board president. "We are grateful for the hard work of Assemblymember Betsy Butler in assuring LGBT people an equal opportunity to stay in the homes they've built over a lifetime with the person they love."

Since Proposition 13 was passed in 1978, the legislature and voters have carved out certain exclusions to the general "change in ownership" rule that triggers reassessment of property tax values. For example, the transfer of property to either a husband or a wife after the death of either is not considered a change in ownership. There are similar exclusions for transfers between parents and children, or grandparents and grandchildren.

Due to the patchwork of laws surrounding same-sex relationships, some LGBT senior couples lacked coverage under existing property tax exclusions, threatening their ability to remain in their homes in the event of a death. AB 1700 addresses this situation in keeping with the intent of Proposition 13 to keep families in their homes.

AB 1700 also extends protection from onerous tax increases to any mutually-supporting households upon the death of one of the co-owners, meaning that family relationships like those of brothers and sisters or unmarried co-parents would qualify for relief from the tax reassessment under the new law.

To learn more about Equality California-sponsored legislation, visit www.eqca.org/legislation.

Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to a state with some of the most comprehensive human rights protections in the nation. Equality California has partnered with legislators to successfully sponsor more than 85 pieces of pro-equality legislation. EQCA continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org

AB 1700