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Domestic Partnership News Archive
November 01 - November 07, 1999





This page contains news for the period Monday, November 01, 1999 through Sunday, November 07, 1999.




<<   November 1999  >>

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Friday, November 05, 1999

Appeals Court upholds New York City's comprehensive domestic partner law

An Associated Press story released today reports that a New York appeals court has upheld the validity of a New York City domestic partnership law.  The law amended all city ordinances and regulations to give treat registered domestic partners the same as spouses for purposes of city law.

New York City had registered about 9,500 couples through the beginning of 1999, more than half of them heterosexual couples.

In the ruling issued yesterday, the five-member Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled the city did not overstep its authority nor did the ordinance conflict with state law.

In their challenge to the 1998 law, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) argued that the state not the city -- had responsibility to set laws regarding marriage and domestic partnership.

Pursuant to another ordinance passed in 1993, the city has provided health and dental benefits to the domestic partners of city workers. Last year, the city expanded the law to make it comprehensive in scope as far as city policies and programs are concerned. 

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, which filed a brief in the case to defend the new ordinance, issued a press release yesterday, stating that the Court found no reason to stop the city from following the example set by the state, which itself  offers domestic partner benefits to its employees and retirees.

"Given these actions by the State, plaintiffs' claim that it is against State and/or public policy for the City to provide health care and other benefits to the domestic partners of its employees...is untenable," wrote the Court in affirming a lower court decision that likewise rejected the ACLJ's claims.

In recent years, the domestic partner laws of San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, and other municipalities also have been upheld by courts nationwide. Over 2,000 public and private employers currently offer domestic partner benefits in order to promote fairness and attract the most qualified workers.

Canadian Liberals Split on Domestic Partner Proposals

An article published today by Planet Out reports that the Canadian government has a lot to do to bring federal laws into line with high court-ordered domestic partner equality, but dissidents in the ruling party have forced a change in the Liberals' piecemeal strategy.

The article says that Canada's Liberal Government has determined to introduce early in 2000 an omnibus bill to amend at least 50 federal laws to give gay and lesbian couples equal status with unmarried heterosexual couples. The move is intended to bring national laws on a broad range of topics into compliance with the Canadian Supreme Court's May ruling in "M v. H."

According to the article, it is a change of strategy from plans earlier this year to make the amendments on a piecemeal basis; when the Government first attempted to recognize same-gender domestic partners in a controversial bill on the management of government workers' pension funds, it revealed a split within the Liberal Party itself.

The same handful of Liberal dissidents are still opposed to recognizing same-sex couples, and party leaders are trying to bring them into line. Most, like Member of Parliament Paul Steckle, object on the grounds that the move will lead to legalizing gay marriages. Member of Parliament Dan McTeague claims he would support a bill which recognized all economically dependent cohabitants, but doesn't want to base legal status on gay and lesbian sexual relationships.

Other news stories have reported that the government has begun some research into the possibility of a broader definition of domestic partnership, but Planet Out predicts it won't be proposed soon: recognition of gay and lesbian partners alone is projected to cost $165-million per year, while there are believed to be six times as many others living in dependent relationships.

The story says that Justice Minister Anne McClellan met with the Liberal dissidents in caucus on November 3 to explain the proposed law and try to bring them around.  The government has yet to decide whether to allow the Liberals a free vote or to enforce party discipline on the dissidents. With the conservative Reform Party opposing the bill, it's not clear the Liberals can push it through the Parliament.


Tuesday, November 02, 1999

Los Angeles considers mandatory DP policy for city businesses

A story published today in the Advocate newsmagazine reports that a proposal that would require firms doing business with Los Angeles to have domestic-partnership policies passed a city council panel last Thursday.

The proposal is similar to one that took effect in San Francisco last year. It also mirrors a proposal currently pending before the Seattle City Council.

"The reality of the American society is that there are a lot of people living in committed family relationships who are not married," said councilwoman Jackie Goldberg, the author of the proposed new law.

The measure, which may come before the entire city council in mid-November, would require businesses that have contracts worth at least $5,000 with the city and that offer spousal benefits to their workers to give the same benefits to domestic partners of their workers. A city official estimated that about 1,200 businesses would be affected by the law.


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