The Corner

Law & the Courts

California Legalizes Domestic Partnerships for Straight Couples

(Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

We were told during the same-sex marriage debate that allowing gay couples to marry would strengthen the institution. But that isn’t happening. Things are going the other way.

Latest example: Domestic partnerships were created before same-sex marriage was legalized as a matter of equity. Because same-sex couples could not marry legally, proponents argued, simple fairness required that gay couples have a legal vehicle to officially establish their relationship as “committed” so they could receive the same tax and property benefits enjoyed by married straight couples on the state level.

Now that same-sex marriage is legal throughout the land, strengthening the wobbly institution would seem to call for the repeal of these domestic partnership laws as both superfluous and to encourage marriage as the socially responsible course for couples to commit themselves to each other and establish families.

But, of course, things are going in the opposite direction. Rather than so tighten family law, California has just further loosened it by expanding its domestic partnership law, which used to apply solely to same-sex couples, to include heterosexuals.

Yes, of course that policy was adopted by San Francisco first. San Francisco values now control California.

Does anyone want to bet whether the concept of registered domestic partnerships will be expanded to include polyamorous groupings? I give it no more than five years. We just don’t want to uphold basic standards or maintain crucial definitions anymore.

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