California supreme court secures tax breaks
for domestic partners
By Mike Aldux
January 4, 2008
Domestic partners in California secured the same property tax
protections as heterosexual spouses yesterday after the state's
Supreme Court batted down an appeal by county assessors.
The decision comes after the state's Court of Appeal in October
unanimously affirmed a Board of Equalization's rule protecting
domestic partners from increases in property taxes when one partner
dies and the other inherits the couple's home, according to the
National Center for Lesbian Rights.
State law has long provided this protection for surviving heterosexual
spouses, the NCLR said in a statement.
After yesterday's decision, no further appeals of the rule are
Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors praised the
court's ruling, saying a "surviving domestic partner should
not lose the family home because he or she must pay taxes that
a surviving married spouse does not."
Kors said, "The fact that this lawsuit moved forward in
the first place further illustrates the need to grant same-sex
couples the ability to marry in California."
The case began in March 2005 when Sutter and Orange counties
challenged the Board of Equalization rule in state court. Several
gay rights advocacy groups and three same-sex couples defended
The challenge was rejected by a Sacramento judge in 2006. Several
county assessors appealed again but the appeal was knocked down
in October. Yesterday the state's Supreme Court denied further
review of the rule, allowing it to stand.
"We are grateful to the Board of Legislature for protecting
same-sex couples and their families," said Shannon Minter,
legal director for the NCLR.
Minter said the ruling "ensures that this protection is
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