California allows domestic partners--people who live together without being married--to register with the state and receive some of the benefits accorded to married couples, most notably the right to be covered by the partner's employee health insurance. Domestic partnerships must meet certain criteria for registration. Some people choose not to register for various reasons; these people do not get employee health coverage or other benefits.
Only same sex couples or opposite sex couples where one partner is over the age of 62 may register as domestic partners in the state of California. Domestic partners must share a residence to be eligible. Opposite sex couples pay a registration fee of $10, as of 2010, while same sex couples must pay a fee of $33 to register. Eligible couples may choose not to register; however, to get benefits associated with domestic partnerships, couples must register. Couples must register with the state of California to receive benefits, not just with the city they live in.
Employee Health Insurance
California State Assembly Bill 2208 requires all employers to provide health insurance for employees and their registered domestic partners. By law, employers do not have to cover unregistered domestic partners, although they can choose to do so if they so desire. In general, employers cover unregistered domestic partners if they are not eligible for registration rather than because they have chosen not to register.
Reasons People Do Not Register
California considers the names and addresses of registered domestic partners to be public information and will offer this information upon request. Some domestic partners may not feel comfortable with this lack of privacy. In addition, same sex marriage is not legal in California, as of June 2010. Some same-sex couples may choose not to register because they want the right to marry their partners or because they feel the higher registration fee for same-sex couples is discriminatory.