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California Domestic Partner Benefits: What you need to know

A “domestic partnership” is a relationship between two individuals that is usually made up of a same-sex couple but may also be made up of an opposite-sex couple. The relationship is usually one that cannot be legalized by marriage.
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Same-sex marriage. In May 2008, the state Supreme Court ruled that state laws excluding same-sex couples from marriage were unconstitutional, allowing same-sex couples to marry in California (In re Marriage Cases, 43 Cal. 4th 757 (Cal. 2008)). However, during the November 2008 election, a majority of voters approved Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples. In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Proposition 8's proponents lacked the legal right to defend the law after a federal district court struck it down as unconstitutional (Hollingsworth v. Perry, No. 12-144 (June 26, 2013)). Consequently, the state has resumed issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Approximately 18,000 same-sex couples were married during the time that same-sex marriages were legal in California. The California Supreme Court has ruled that these marriages remain legal(Strauss v. Horton, 46 Cal. 4th 364 (Cal. 2009)). Employees who are in legal same-sex marriages should be provided the same benefits that employers provide to employees with opposite-sex spouses.
Other jurisdictions. Same-sex marriages legally entered into in other jurisdictions before November 5, 2008, are recognized as legal same-sex marriages under California law (CA Fam. Code Sec. 308). Following the Supreme Court's decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry, same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions are recognized as legal marriages in California.
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