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Gov. Wilson Vetoes Domestic Partners Legislation

September 12, 1994

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ Gov. Pete Wilson on Sunday vetoed legislation allowing unmarried couples, gay or heterosexual, to register with the state and gain certain rights afforded to married couples.

California would have been the first state to enact such a law, which opponents said had sought to advance a gay lifestyle.

″Government policy ought not to discount marriage by offering a substitute relationship that demands much less - and provides much less than is needed both by the children of such relationships, and ultimately much less than is needed by society,″ Wilson said in a statement.

The measure would have allowed registered domestic partners to have hospital visitation rights, bequeath property to each other and act on behalf of each other should one become incapacitated.

The bill was sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Richard Katz

Katz said Wilson, a Republican, got the wrong message from the bill.

″This bill has nothing to do with the institution of marriage. As a matter of fact, if anything, it strengthens family values,″ Katz said. ″There are people throughout California, senior citizens in particular, who don’t have the ability to get married because they might lose social security or pension benefits.″

Katz called Wilson’s veto message ″paranoia, right-wing rhetoric.″ He said he plans to reintroduce the bill during the coming legislative session.

Of the 10.4 million households in California, nearly 500,000 consist of unmarried couples, according to the 1990 census. More than 90 percent of them are opposite-sex couples.

The bill was passed by the state Assembly Aug. 25. It required domestic partners who register with the state to share a primary residence, agree to share basic expenses, not be married or related by blood in any way that would prevent them from marrying, and be over 18.

Wilson said many provisions of the bill were already covered by state law.

Wilson’s statement said that government has an obligation to adopt policies that ″encourage and reward marriage and the formation of strong families.″

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