January 27, 2006 RULING UPHOLDING DOMESTIC PARTNER LAWS CELEBRATED BY LGBT AND CIVIL RIGHTS ADVOCATES

Attack on LGBT Families Rebuffed
by Third Appellate District Decision

January 27, 2006 Sacramento, CA (eqca) – Today’s Third Appellate District ruling affirming California’s Domestic Partners Rights and Responsibilities Act (Assembly Bill 205) and AB 25, a domestic partnership rights bill passed in 2001, is an important milestone for same-sex couples, according to leading LGBT and civil rights advocacy organizations.

“The extremists’ attempt to eliminate domestic partner rights in California failed last year, and it failed again today,? said Geoff Kors, Executive Director of Equality California (EQCA), one of the defendants in the case.“Like other courts in California and in other states, the Third Appellate District clearly understands that all Californians must have access to these rights. The Campaign for Children and Families (CCF) and other extremists have been sent a strong message: Domestic partners are entitled to full protection under the law.?

EQCA sponsors legislation to increase protections for LGBT families. “While domestic partnership rights fall short of access to marriage equality for all Californians, they do provide key protections for hard-working couples who are trying to raise children and protect families,? Kors said.

In 2005, the Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District upheld the validity of AB 205 (Goldberg, D-Los Angeles), a landmark law sponsored by Equality California that was passed by the California Legislature in 2003. AB 205 has provided domestic partners with basic protections and responsibilities including community property, mutual responsibility for debt, parenting rights and obligations such as custody and support, and the ability to claim a partner’s body after death. Today’s ruling reinforces the validity of the earlier decision, and also affirms AB 25 (Migden), which expanded and clarified domestic partner rights.

“(CCF) has offered no convincing reason why (our prior decision in) Knight does not foreclose its claims with respect to Assembly Bill 205, and why Knight’s rationale does not apply equally to AB 25,? said the decision released by the court today.

“Today’s decision brings to an end years of wasted court resources brought about by a fringe group of people opposed to even the most basic protections for thousands of California families headed by same-sex couples,” said Jennifer Pizer, Senior Counsel at the Western Regional Office of Lambda Legal. “We look forward to the day when all families are treated fairly under the law in California, and that day will be when marriage becomes equally available to all committed couples.”

It’s incredible the lengths that so-called ‘family’ advocates have gone to deny Californian protections for their families,? said Christine Sun, a staff attorney for the ACLU. “We’re relieved that the courts have once again said that same-sex couples shouldn’t be denied such important protections.?

Equality California was represented in the case by the Law Offices of David C. Codell in Los Angeles; the ACLU, the ACLU affiliates in Northern California, Southern California and San Diego; Lambda Legal; and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Founded in 1998, Equality California is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure the dignity, safety, equality and civil rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians. Equality California is one of the largest and fastest growing statewide LGBT organizations in the country. We can be contacted through our website at www.eqca.org.

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work. We can be contacted through our website at www.lambdalegal.org.

The American Civil Liberties Union is the nation’s foremost advocate for individual liberty and equality, and leading guardian against unwarranted government interference and abuse. Through litigation, lobbying and education, we fight to defend the Constitution for each new generation, and to extend Constitutional rights to groups that have traditionally been denied them. We can be contacted through our website at www.aclu.org.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal resource center committed to advancing the rights and safety of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. We can be reached through our website at www.nclrights.org.

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