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California Senate passes domestic partner rights bill

A story published today by the San Jose Mercury News reports that a far-reaching bill that would grant unmarried domestic partners sick leave benefits, the right to sue for wrongful death and the ability to make medical decisions for each other passed the California Senate by a vote of 2311on Monday and is set to become law. ``It's been a long time coming. This has been incremental but significant process, and we're very pleased that there are real tangible benefits this time around.'' said the bill's author Assemblywoman Carole Migden. The bill does not allow gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. But it does offer legal protections to same-sex partners. Migden said the legislation would give more heft to the state's existing domestic partnership registry, which she sponsored. To date, nearly 9,000 couples have registered as domestic partners, receiving state recognition and validation, but few legal rights. Specifically, the law would allow domestic partners several rights, including: use of sick leave to care for partners and their children, the ability to make medical decisions when a partner is unable to make them, the right to adopt a partner's child and the ability to inherit property when a specific will is not present. State Sen. William ``Pete'' Knight, who backed the ``Defense of Marriage'' proposition, blasted the bill as an attempt to recognize gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered couples as ``normal'' and put them on equal footing with married couples. ``It's a bad bill because it undermines Proposition 22,'' said Knight, a Palmdale Republican. ``The people of California have indicated that they think marriage should stay between a man and a woman. Gay people, including bisexual, transsexual and transgender people, are moving in the hopes of being accepted in the eyes of society as normal families.'' Gov. Gray Davis has vowed to sign AB 25, but first the bill will return to the Assembly for a simple up or down vote. The law also applies to unmarried heterosexual couples over age 62 if they meet specific provisions under the federal Social Security Act