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Sen. Scott Wiener pushes opposite-sex domestic partnership into law

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Ching Wong/SFBay
State Sen. Scott Wiener, D - San Francisco, speaks at a press conference urging Gov. Jerry Brown to sign AB 186 in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept 4, 2018.

Opposite-sex couples who want their relationship to be legally recognized outside of the institution of marriage will now be able to register as domestic partners after legislation by state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, was signed into law.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Wiener’s legislation, Senate Bill 30, into law Tuesday. Under current law, only same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples 62 and older were able to register domestic partnerships. SB 30 ends that restriction.

California’s domestic partnership registry was originally created to allow same-sex couples to have their relationships recognized at a time when they were not legally allowed to marry.

The bill will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Opposite-sex couples were originally excluded from the registry because of their access to marriage. Opposite-sex seniors were included because of issues related to Social Security.

There are several reasons couples may choose to register as domestic partners instead of marrying. Domestic partnership is financially beneficial for some couples because the federal government does not recognize it.

Couples may avoid the federal “marriage penalty,” when the incomes of a couple are taxed higher than two individuals would be, or preserve certain benefits or tax credits.

The historic and cultural connotations of marriage are also undesirable for some, and domestic partnership provides an alternative, according to Wiener’s office.

Wiener said in a news release:

“In modern society, couples define their relationships in many different ways, not only through marriage.”

“Couples should be able to protect their relationships under the law by registering as domestic partners, without being forced to marry. SB 30 brings long overdue parity to same sex and opposite sex couples.”

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