Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

California has officially broken up with the terms “husband” and “wife”

California is divorcing itself from the terms “husband” and “wife” when it comes to the terminology found in its state codes.

Governor Jerry Brown announced this morning that he had signed into law Senate Bill 1005 by state Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara). The legislation changes the terms “husband” and “wife” to the gender-neutral term “spouse” in more than a dozen sections of California code.

California Governor Jerry Brown (Courtesy governor's office)

California Governor Jerry Brown (Courtesy governor’s office)

Brown signed the bill without comment. It the first of five LGBT-specific bills to be officially adopted this legislative session.

This past Sunday, June 26, marked the third anniversary since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed to stand a lower court ruling invalidating Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban voters adopted in 2008, leading the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California.

Sunday, which coincided with this year’s San Francisco Pride parade, also marked the one-year anniversary since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled all 50 states must allow same-sex couples to wed.

Due to Jackson’s bill the non-gender specific “spouses” found in California codes will also refer to registered domestic partners. The legislation followed on the heels of a number of code language clean up bills that gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) passed in previous years that also did away with gender-specific terminology favoring heterosexual couples.

Jackson introduced SB 1005 not only in response to same-sex couples being able to legally marry in the Golden State, but also in recognition of those couples, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, that have decided to remain in, or enter into, registered domestic partnerships.

“I’m very pleased this bill has now become law. By removing outdated language from the state code, the law will now accurately reflect the rights of same-sex couples in California and the fact that marriage equality is now the law of the land,” stated Jackson in a statement issued Tuesday, July 5. “This helps ensure the equal and fair treatment of all same-sex couples in California.”

Added Rick Zbur, executive director of the statewide LGBT advocacy group Equality California, “We are grateful to Senator Jackson and to Governor Brown for making sure all areas of the law reflect reality and respect married same-sex couples.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, July 1, 2016 @ 11:06 am PST
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