Should couples be domestic partners?


David Siddiqui and Mandy Benson are in love. Neither really believes in marriage, but both want legal protections.

Domestic partnership is the answer. California extends that to only same-sex couples.

"Domestic partnership would give us, I think, validity and the recognition other couples have," said Mandy Benson.

"In terms of healthcare, in terms of being able to make decisions if the other partner is in the hospital, even inheritance and legitimacy in the eyes of our family," said David Siddiqui.

Forty-eight thousand same-sex couples are already registered with the state. Current law allows straight couples older than 62 to file as domestic partners, so they don't lose pension and Social Security benefits by getting married.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed Senator Carole Midgen's proposal today that would expand domestic partnership to all couples.

"We're trying to expand to suit the social patterns that exist today," said State Senator Carole Migden (D) San Francisco.

Opponents say domestic partnerships will weaken the institution of marriage, if there's no difference in the rights.

"It means less couples will get married. More couples will eventually break up due to the lack of real commitment and less children will have the stability they deserve," said Randy Thomasson from Campaign for Children & Families.

Domestic partnership rights include being able to add partners to healthcare benefits if companies allows it, have step-parent adoption rights and qualify for family leave.

"We are here to support each other every day in every way. And we need the legal support to be there for each other the way we'd like," said Benson.

The proposal now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee, where a similar version died last year.

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