CA Same Sex Couple Law
December 13, 2016
California same-sex marriage laws allow same-sex couples the right to marry and the ability to have their out-of-state marriages recognized in California and in other states. Also, the law in California offers same-sex couples protections from discrimination in many areas.
The recognition of same-sex marriages in California
Same-sex couples have been able to marry in California since 2013, thanks to the United States Supreme Court case, Hollingsworth v. Perry which stated that Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional. Same-sex couples in California received an additional vote of support from the United States Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, that said same-sex couples have a Constitutional right to marry and these marriages should be recognized outside of their home state. Therefore, a same-sex couple married in California should have their marriage recognized as valid anywhere else in the United States. Based on these decisions same-sex couples have been put on equal ground with opposite sex couples and this appears to have been solidified for good.
In addition to allowing same-sex couples the right to marry California law also offers same-sex couples protections against discrimination.
Protections from discrimination for same-sex couples.
California law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or marital status. Based on these protections same-sex couples may not be discriminated against based on their same-sex marital status. The following represents some of the significant protections against discrimination provided by California law.
Protection against refusal of service by private businesses
California law prohibits private businesses that serve the public from discriminating against someone based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or marital status. Further, a business owner may not use their religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate.
Protection against employment discrimination
Under California law, an employer may not refuse to hire a person based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and marital status. Further an employer may not refuse to provide a same-sex spouse with employment benefits provided to opposite-sex spouses.
Protection against housing discrimination
Under California’s anti-housing discrimination laws, a landlord cannot refuse to rent a house or apartment to a same-sex couple or otherwise engage in housing discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and marital status.
Protection against discrimination in when adopting a child
California prohibits adoption and foster care agencies from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity. As such a same-sex couple may adopt or act as foster parents without fear of discrimination by a California-based adoption agency.
The Future of Same-Sex Marriage in California
Many have speculated that the appointment of a conservative United States Supreme Court justice to the current vacancy on the court could embolden anti-same-sex marriage activists to try to reverse course and invalidate California’s recognition of same-sex marriages. In fact, any anti-same-sex marriage efforts would likely not be able to overcome the strong political and legal opposition these efforts would face. Further, since the United States Supreme Court has only recently come down for same-sex marriage, it is unlikely the court would take the unprecedented step of overruling itself so soon on such a monumental issue. As such, same-sex couples in California should rest easy in their right to marry and be protected from discrimination.
Further reading on this topic can be done here.