In a victory for registered domestic partners in California, the state supreme court has rejected a challenge that would have forced surviving partners to pay increased property taxes when one partner dies and the other inherits the couple’s home. The court’s decision is final, and no further appeals are possible.
While we are pleased with the court’s decision, this case represents another instance of domestic partnerships falling short of marriage. There is no ready-made safety net for LGBT people when it comes to many big life issues. Read about life planning options to find out what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones.
The case began in March 2005 when Sutter and Orange Counties challenged the Board of Equalization rule that protects domestic partners from increased property taxes when one partner dies and the other inherits the couple’s home. California law has long provided this protection for surviving heterosexual spouses. Represented by NCLR, Lambda Legal and the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, Equality California and three same-sex couples intervened in the litigation to defend the rule. Orange County later left the litigation, but Tehama and Madera Counties joined it. In 2006, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Jack Sapunor rejected the challenge and upheld the rule, and the assessors appealed. Last October, the Third District of the California Court of Appeal unanimously upheld Judge Sapunor’s ruling. In this latest ruling, the California Supreme Court denied further review, permitting the Court of Appeal’s decision to stand.