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Laws on same-sex marriage in California no longer discriminate

While same-sex couples in many states are continuing their quest to achieve full legal equality, California's governor recently took the necessary steps to reach that milestone in California. Just over a year ago, the California Supreme Court announced its decision to recognize same-sex marriage. This followed a U.S. Supreme Court declaration that part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. The decision provided for married same-sex couples to be granted the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples, including pension rights and tax breaks.

However, the language of the relevant California state laws remained biased and outdated. California's governor has now addressed that matter, and the language will no longer refer to spouses by gender. The language that discriminates and creates confusion will be changed to clarify the constitutional rights of non-traditional couples. Regardless of the gender of spouses in a marriage, California statutes will fully reflect the same responsibilities and rights under state law as are effective for heterosexual couples.

In addition to language updates, the Governor also announced that recognition of historic court victories will be recorded on the marriage laws of the state. This important announcement removed one more stumbling block on the road to legal equivalence for same-sex couples. Henceforth, no marriage in California will be referred to as between a man and a woman, but rather between two spouses.

Non-traditional couples in California who are considering a same-sex marriage, or couples who consider dissolving such a marriage, may face many challenges similar to those faced by heterosexual couples. These challenges may include child custody, spousal support and property division, along with complex issues related to parentage and tax. Couples may find comfort knowing that they do not have to face such legal issues alone, as professional help is available for guidance through the process.

Source:, "Wedding Bells Ring: Leno's bill reflects rights for same-sex couples", Seth Hemmelgarn, July 10, 2014

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Victoria S. Linder Law Office
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