Last week, the California Senate approved a bill (S.B.117) that would prevent the state government from entering into contracts worth more than $100,000 with entities that do not provide equal benefits to an employee’s same sex spouse. The California Employment Lawyers Association, the Service Employees International Union Local 1000, which represents state workers, and several other labor unions also support the measure.
The idea is not new to California. In fact, it is similar to ordinances already adopted in other cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Oakland, according to Equality California. If signed into law, the bill would apply to couples married in 2008 when same-sex marriage was legal in California, as well as to same-sex marriages that occurred in other states.
“Providing the same benefits to an employee with a domestic partner, or same-sex or opposite-sex spouse ensures that workers receive equal pay for equal work,” said Senator Christine Kehoe, sponsor of the bill.
The contract requirements of the measure can be waived in the case of an emergency where no qualifying contractor is available to respond to the emergency. Further, if there is a difference in the cost of providing certain benefits to a spouse, the contractor can require the employee to pay any additional cost.
The bill is now on the desk of Governor Jerry Brown, who has 12 days to sign the measure into law or veto the bill.