Unemployment Insurance Bill May Help Same-sex Couples

By Boyce Hinman

So you just met the love of your life, but he lives in San Diego and you are here in Midtown. If he quits his job and moves up here to live with you, can he file for unemployment? Currently, under certain circumstances, someone can quit his or her job to be with a fiancée and yet still qualify for Unemployment Insurance in California.

Generally, to qualify for Unemployment Insurance, the marriage must be imminent. Also, the claimant would have to show that he or she was required to leave his or her work to accompany a spouse to, or join a spouse at, another location because it is impossible or impractical for the claimant to commute to his or her work from the new location.

The Unemployment Insurance applicant would have to show that he or she had tried and failed to obtain a transfer to a new location within commuting distance of where the couple intends to live after the marriage.

 

This is a valuable feature of the Unemployment Insurance program in California. It reduces the economic burden on newlyweds when one of them must quit a job in order to move to the city of his or her intended spouse.

This circumstance can, of course, also occur in the case of same sex couples. Two people meet at the Gay Games or at the national convention of gay and lesbian choruses or at the national gay square dance conventions and fall fast in love. But one of them lives in Sacramento and the other lives in Los Angeles. Somebody is going to have to move if they are going to establish a home together. Since same sex couples cannot marry in California, they cannot be fiancées in the usual sense of the word. As a result, it is questionable, at best, whether the current Unemployment Insurance regulations regarding fiancées applies to them.

So Assembly Member De La Torre has introduced AB 2055 to deal with this issue. This bill says that, for the purpose of qualifying for unemployment insurance, an individual may be deemed to have left his or her most recent work with good cause if he or she leaves employment to accompany a person with whom he or she expects to join soon in registered domestic partnership. But all the same conditions noted above must apply. It must be impractical to commute from the new place to the old job, an attempt to transfer to another job site must have been asked for and refused, etc.

If this bill becomes law, it should be of great help to same sex couples. Also, it would help assure that they have all the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Boyce Hinman is the founder of the California Communities United Institute. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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