The Collateral Damage of Domestic Partnership

This is something some of us have worried about for a couple of decades now:

Ron Garber knew his former wife was living with another woman and had taken her last name when he agreed to pay her $1,250 a month in alimony.

What he didn't know was that the two women had registered with the state as domestic partners under a law that was supposed to mirror marriage law, Garber said.

State marriage laws say that alimony ends when the former spouse remarries, and Garber reasons he should be off the hook, given that domestic partnership is akin to marriage. But an Orange County judge has decided that registered partnership is cohabitation, not marriage, and that Garber must pay.

"This is not about gay or lesbian," Garber said. "This is about the law being fair."

The case, which Garber intends to appeal, highlights gaps between the legal status of domestic partners and of married couples, an issue the California Supreme Court is considering as it ponders whether to legalize same-sex marriage.

The answer is to grant us all the same rights and responsibilities of civil marriage: good for marriage, good for families, good for gays, good for straights, good for kids.