In San Francisco and New York, the law is blurring the meaning of family.

Nobody has yet figured out a way to be “a little bit pregnant,” but if some public officials have their way, it may soon be possible for homosexuals to be “sort of married”—thanks to recent events in San Francisco and the state of New York (CT, Aug. 18, 1989, p. 44). Official actions there have been both embraced and reviled as sanctions for gay and other nonmarried, live-in relationships. It looks as if the church may need to prepare for a long series of legislative battles on yet another family issue.

In New York, the state Court of Appeals ruled that a partner in a long-term homosexual relationship can take over the couple’s rent-controlled apartment when the lover who signed the lease dies. The term family, wrote Associate Justice Vito Titone for the four-to-two majority, “should not be rigidly restricted” to those who have formalized their relationship by obtaining a marriage certificate.

San Francisco’s contribution to the blurring of boundaries for family is a “domestic partners” ordinance. The proposal, written by gay municipal supervisor Harry Britt, includes a formal process for couples to register at city hall and be issued certificates similar to marriage licenses. Once registered, those who are city employees would be eligible for some of the same benefits as married employees. Shortly before the ordinance was signed into law, Britt noted that it was written so that “it could be used everywhere, and this afternoon we’re sending it to … so many other cities I can’t remember them all.”

All Eyes On San Francisco

In San Francisco, the story is not quite over. In early July, on the day the domestic partnership law was scheduled to take effect, the ...

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