This page contains news for
the period Wednesday, September 01, 1999 through Sunday, September 05, 1999.
<< September 1999 >>
Friday, September 3, 1999
Assembly OKs domestic-partner bill
By Jim Sams
Capitol Bureau Chief
September 3, 1999
SACRAMENTO -- The state Assembly on Thursday passed a bill
that would make California the first state in the nation to recognize unmarried domestic
partners, but Gov. Gray Davis prefers another version that would apply the status only to
gay and elderly couples.
The Assembly voted 41-38 -- the thinnest majority possible --
to approve a bill by Sen. Kevin Murray, D-Los Angeles, to create the first-ever statewide
domestic-partner registry and give unmarried couples some of the rights now enjoyed only
by spouses. Every Assembly Republican and every Central Valley Democrat outside the
Sacramento area, including Michael Machado of Linden, opposed the bill.
Davis prefers another version that would allow only same-sex
couples and people 62 and older to register as domestic partners, spokesman Michael
Bustamante said. Many elderly couples live together but don't marry because they don't
want to lose pension benefits or reduce their Social Security payments, senior advocates
Bustamante said Davis sympathizes with seniors and has backed
off his previous stand that only same-sex couples should be allowed to register as
domestic partners. But he said the governor doesn't see any need for heterosexual couples
who are not married to receive legal recognition.
"There's a process that covers those folks,"
Bustamante said. "It's called the institution of marriage."
Assemblywoman Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, said at the
governor's request she is amending her own domestic-partner bill to cover only elderly and
same-sex couples, effectively excluding heterosexual couples younger than 62. In addition
to creating a registry, Migden's version would require health-insurance companies to offer
coverage for domestic partners under the same terms and conditions as spouses. The bill is
expected to go to a final vote by the Senate on Wednesday or Thursday.
The intent of both bills -- and two others that are pending
in the Legislature -- is to give unmarried couples some of the legal considerations that
married people take for granted. Since gay couples now receive no legal recognition and
are prohibited from marrying by the state Constitution, they can be shut out of hospital
emergency rooms and have no more right than a perfect stranger to act as conservators for
disabled partners who can no longer make decisions for themselves. Elderly couples who
choose not to marry for financial reasons find themselves in similar predicaments.
Opponents say either version of the domestic-partner bill
threatens the strength of traditional marriage. Although many cities and counties and some
states have extended domestic-partner benefits to government employees, no state has given
legal recognition to the arrangement, according to the American Association for Single
Murray's bill would require the Secretary of State's Office
to set up a domestic-partner registry, charging fees to couples to cover the estimated
$130,000 annual cost. Domestic partners would have to give notice before terminating the
relationship and could not enter into another domestic-partner arrangement until six
months after termination.
Bustamante said he does not know if the governor will veto
Murray's bill should it reach his desk before Migden's. The Senate has one more chance to
amend the measure when it comes back next week for concurrence with minor amendments made
in the Assembly.
Murray said Thursday the governor's office hasn't asked him
to make any changes.
"I have no plans to amend my bill," he said.
"The governor can decide what his policy directives are."
Thomas F. Coleman, coordinator of singles' rights for the
American Association of Single People, said the domestic-partner policy proposed by Davis
is a step in the right direction but doesn't go far enough. He said many single couples
are philosophically opposed to marriage because of the aura of religious tradition but
deserve secular legal recognition of their relationships.
Coleman said if the governor wants to include elderly people
in the domestic-partnership registry, he should at least extend eligibility to disabled
people as well. Coleman said disabled people who receive Social Security payments often do
not marry because the union would reduce their benefits.
"This is a last-minute compromise, and they haven't
thought out all the details because it's a last-minute thing," Coleman said.
"They are thinking larger than same-sex -- that's good -- but there are people they
are not thinking about."
Wednesday, September 1, 1999
couple - two houses
The Christian Science Monitor ran a story today about the
growing number of husbands and wives who maintain separate residences. The United States
Census Bureau has a name for this marital shifting: "Married, spouse absent."
According to a l998 census figure, some 7 million spouses fall into this category, up by
790,000 from 1994.
After many years of marriage, some older couples choose
separation to preserve assets, or because a spouse is unable to care for himself or
herself and is under care in a rest home or hospital. Legally they are apart, but
Dual careers keep couples apart geographically, or a spouse
may be in long-term care. And many military families endure at least occasional
separations. Men and women in prison may also be a factor.
The article is quite interesting. This phenomenon gives
"marriage" a whole new meaning.
female seeks travel and romance -- with child
Today's issue of Salon Online has an article discussing a
getaway hosted by Eastover Resort in Lenox, Mass., for single parents and their kids to
bond with each other and nature.
"Eastover" is described by the writer as a
picturesque thousand-acre estate with a rambling old Georgian mansion nestled against
rolling hills and misty mountains. The week-long program offers five hours a day of free
child care for kids 3 and up.
Carolina crime victims no longer penalized for cohabitation
According to an Associated Press story that ran in several
newspapers around the nation on September 1, 1999, the North Carolina Crime Victims
Compensation Commission will pay families of 14 murder victims whose claims had been
rejected because the victims - all unmarried - were living with a member of the opposite
sex. North Carolina and several other states have criminal laws against unmarried
Among the beneficiaries was Diana Zambory of Newport, who was
originally denied compensation after her 24-year-old daughter was killed by her live-in