Partners Task Force for Gay & Lesbian Couples
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Registered Partnership Bill
The Czech Republic Approach
© January 12, 2007, Demian


The “Registered Partnership Bill” became law in the Czech Republic on March 15, 2006. The Chamber of Deputies passed the law allowing a registered partnership of same-sex couples, overriding the veto of President Vaclav Klaus. It came into effect in July 2006.

The Czech gay and lesbian community intensively lobbied for this law for seven years.

An October 2005 poll found that 62 percent of Czech respondents supported passage of the same-sex partnership bill. Also showing support were 500 famous personalities who signed a petition for passing the bill.

Since last July, when the bill went into effect, the first, and most sweeping, adopted in the former Eastern bloc, more than 200 couples have registered their unions.

Included in the new law:
  • Must be same-sex partners.
  • At least 18 years old.
  • Legally competent and single (neither registered nor married)
  • At least one partner must have Czech citizenship.
  • Partners must not be next-of-kin or siblings.
  • Partnership can only be dissolved by court decision.
  • Partners become “close persons” according to the Civil Code and can act on behalf of each other in common affairs.
  • Partners have a mutual duty to maintain and support each other.
  • Surviving partner automatically belongs to the first inheritance group.
  • Partners are commonly assessed for the purposes of social support and subsistence minimum legislation.
  • Partners can participate in each other’s business activities, but are not allowed to employ one another.
  • They may refuse to give testimony should this endanger the other partner (applies to petty offences, penal offences, tax and duty administration).
  • Partners may select counsel for each other, as well as appeal a judgement in favour of the sentenced partner.
  • Partners are entitled to use his/her partner’s rented apartment for the duration of the partnership, and in certain circumstances can inherit the right to be a tenant after a partner’s death.
  • “Marital” status must be stated in the person’s ID card.
  • Partner who applies for a job at the Labour Office has the right to refuse a particular job offer based on the job character, or place of employment of his/her partner.
Excluded from the law:
  • Estate by entirety
  • Cannot hold joint ownership of property or file taxes together for financial benefit, like opposite-sex couples can
  • Common or double surname
  • Impact on citizenship, residence or work permit acquisition
  • Survivor’s pensions
  • Advantages stemming from income tax law (e.g. joint taxation)
  • Financial compensation in case of partner’s death
  • Adoption of children
  • If a partner has children from a previous relationship, the other partner is barred from sharing parental rights
  • If the partnership is between a foreigner and a Czech, the foreigner will not be fast-tracked to Czech residency or citizenship as with opposite-sex marriage
  • Does not address career soldiers (which makes it impossible, for instance, for same-sex couples to spend holiday together in the military run recreation facilities)

History
  • The Republic’s cabinet approved, and sent to parliament, legislation to recognize same-sex partnerships on September 17, 2001. The law was designed to clear the way for a surviving partner to inherit, as well as gain other legal rights. It would allow same-sex couples to register at local government offices, and requires a court-approved, divorce-like process to leave a relationship. It would not allow same-sex couples to adopt children. On October 26, 2001, the Czech parliament lower chamber rejected a draft of the law, returning it to the government for revision.

    Gay rights groups have lobbied for such a legislation for years, this being the third time such a law has been rejected. As expected, some lawmakers and the Catholic Church were staunchly opposed to the proposal. The Church had organized a petition drive against the bill.

    Yet another bill for limited spousal right for same-sex couples was approved by the parliament’s lower chamber in December 2005, however, it needed approval by the upper chamber, the Senate, as well as the unlikely approval of president Vaclav Klaus.

    Protest to such a law was launched from 10 Christian church groups. They claim, in a letter published on January 16, 2006, on the Czech Bishops Conference Web site that same-sex couples have the power to weaken opposite-sex couples’ family life and cause values chaos:

    “We think that the adoption of a law on same-sex partnership will further weaken family life and will cause chaos in values, mainly in the young generation.”
    Signed by representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, and eight Protestant churches.
    President Klaus stated that the registered partnership was a “tragic illusion,” adding that laws grant privilege to opposite-sex marriage, given the fact that one of the outmost objectives of such marriage is to create a family and raise children. He has chosen to ignore the fact that same-sex couples constitute a family, and that some same-sex couples also raise children.

    Pres. Vaclav Klaus:

    “One cannot create a family in same-sex marriage. I repeat, there is no single reason for the state to grant homosexual marriage a privilege”
    In early February 2006, the registered partnership bill won a legislative vote — 86-78 — slightly above the required threshold. On February 16, 2006, the president announced his refusal to sign the bill.

    However, the “Life Partnership Bill” was instituted in the Czech Republic on March 15, 2006. The Chamber of Deputies passed the law allowing a registered partnership of same-sex couples, overriding the veto of President Vaclav Klaus.


Not a Model for Family Recognition in U.S.

This domestic partnership status does not work as a model for America, because implementing an equivalent legal status to marriage requires duplicating 150-to-350 laws in each state, and more than 1,138 laws on the federal level. [See U.S. Federal Laws for the Legally Married.] The whole idea is completely impractical.

Further, domestic partnerships are usually not recognized outside of the issuing state. Because of the lack of portability, they create a patchwork legal status as a couple moves or vacations.

While such contracts are an attempt to create equal treatment, they only reinforce a separate and totally unequal status, one we consider to be a manifestation of apartheid. [See Marrying Apartheid: The Failure of Domestic Partnership Status]








Governments that offer Full Legal Marriage
Nations

    Netherlands (2001)
    Belgium (2003)
    Canada (2005)
    Spain (2005)
    South Africa (2005)
    Norway (2009)
    Sweden (2009)
    Iceland (2010)
    Argentina (2010)
    Portugal (2010)
    Denmark (2012)
    France (2013)
    New Zealand (2013)
    Brazil (2013)
    Uruguay (2013)
    New Zealand (2013)
    United Kingdom
      (England, Wales, Scotland) (2013)
    Luxembourg (2014)
    Finland (2014)
    Ireland (2015)
    Colombia (2016)
US States & Territories

    Massachusetts (2004)
    California (2008)
    Connecticut (2008)
    Iowa (2009)
    Vermont (2009)
    New Hampshire (2009)
    District of Columbia (2009)
    New York (2011)
    Maine (2012)
    Washington (2012)
    Maryland (2013)
    Rhode Island (2013)
    Delaware (2013)
    Minnesota (2013)
    Illinois (2013)
    Utah (2013)
    New Jersey (2013)
    Hawaii (2013)
    New Mexico (2013)
    Michigan (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
    Oregon (2014)
    Wisconsin (2014)
    

    Arkansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
    Pennsylvania (2014)
    Indiana (2014)
    Nevada (2014)
    Virginia (2014)
    Oklahoma (2014)
    Idaho (2014)
    West Virginia (2014)
    Alaska (2014)
    Arizona (2014)
    Wyoming (2014)
    Kansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
    Florida (2014)
    Colorado (2014)
    North Carolina (2014)
    South Carolina (2014)
    Montana (2014)
    Alabama (2015)
    U.S. Supreme Court (June 26, 2015):
      Ruling: All U.S. States must now
      allow same-sex couples the
      freedom of legal marriage.
Native American Tribes

    Coquille Tribe, Oregon (2009)
    Mashantucket Pequot, Connecticut (2011)
    Suquamish Tribe, Washington (2011)
    Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Washington (2013)
    Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Minnesota (2013)
    Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan (2013)
    Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Michigan (2013)
    Santa Ysabel Tribe, California (2013)
    Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, Washington (2013)
    Cheyenne, Oklahoma (2013)
    Arapaho, Oklahoma (2013)
    Leech Lake Tribal Court, Minnesota (2013)
    Puyallup Tribe, Washington (2914)
    Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming (2014)
    Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan, (2014)
    Colville Confederated Tribes, Washington (2014)
    Central Council of Tlingit, Alaska (2015)
    Haida Indian Tribes, Alaska (2015)

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