Fiona Ma for State Assembly

California Legislature Passes Bill Eliminating Legal Separation Barriers for Same-Sex Couples

SACRAMENTO – The California State Senate passed the Separation Equity Act, AB 2700 authored by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco), by a 26-9 bipartisan vote. Previously approved by the State Assembly, AB 2700 seeks to create a consolidated form and procedure to simultaneously dissolve a civil marriage and domestic partnership. AB 2700 is co-sponsored by Equality California and the Conference of California Bar Associations.

"AB 2700 brings us a step closer towards marriage equality by recognizing that ALL marriages are treated alike, even when it comes to dissolving marriages," said Assemblymember Fiona Ma.

The bill would amend the state's family code, allowing for couples who first registered as domestic partners and who legally married thereafter to dissolve both contracts through a single, uniform procedure. The current system forces couples to go through a separate process for each, which can take an extra one to two years for each case to be resolved and unnecessarily burdens the judicial system. The bill also clarifies that same-sex couples who married outside of California and who have all the rights and responsibilities of, may dissolve those out of state marriages in California.

"Current state law requires same-sex couples who are both married and registered domestic partners to dissolve their partnership and file for divorce, should they decide to separate, in two separate proceedings," said Geoffrey Kors, Equality California´s executive director. "This cumbersome and expensive process is a result of California´s dual system of recognizing relationships and the continuing exclusion of same-sex couples from civil marriage. This bill brings us a step closer to equality, but until all loving couples can marry in the state of California, they will continue to be unequal in the eyes of the law."

The bill now heads to the governor for signature.