WILSON WATCH : Domestic Tranquillity
Gov. Pete Wilson got well-deserved attention last week when he signed a bill permitting school districts to require students to wear uniforms. Wilson hopes that uniforms will reduce school violence by preventing students from wearing provocative gang colors. In signing the bill, Wilson expressed his faith that this relatively minor legal change will make a big difference in the lives of Californians.
For the same reason we urge Wilson to sign AB 2810, sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sylmar). The bill, now before the governor, would make another relatively small change in state law that stands to do much good. Katz’s bill would create a Domestic Partners Registry, extending certain rights in times of crisis, now often denied, to unmarried individuals who share a residence and are responsible for each other’s living expenses.
For example, hospitals would be required to let partners visit when one is gravely ill and surviving partners would be allowed to inherit joint property more easily.
Several cities already permit domestic partners to register; Katz’s bill would make California the first state to extend such benefits to unmarried couples.
Most of the thousands of couples in California who would be affected are heterosexual senior citizens who live together but do not marry in order to preserve their Social Security benefits. But because homosexual couples also would be allowed to register under this bill, Wilson, in the midst of a nasty gubernatorial campaign, may well hesitate. He shouldn’t.