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Davis Signs Domestic Partners Bill

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California became the first state in the nation today to adopt a requirement that businesses with state contracts offer the same benefits to domestic partners as to married couples. Governor Gray Davis signed the bill — which had been a key goal of gay rights groups.

Supporters say the new law is a victory for fairness. They say businesses should treat domestic partners the same way they treat married couples. But opponents in the Legislature said the bill would trample the rights of employers who may not approve of gay relationships. The bill will not take effect until 2007 so that employers have time to change their benefit packages.

Earlier this year Davis signed another key gay rights bill — giving domestic partners most of the rights and responsibilities of married couples.