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CA Supreme Court Upholds Domestic Partner Law

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Gays and lesbians won a major legal victory Wednesday when the California Supreme Court let stand a new law granting registered domestic partners many of the same rights and protections of heterosexual marriage.

Without comment, the unanimous justices upheld appellate and trial court rulings that the sweeping measure does not conflict with a voter-approved initiative defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Justice Janice Rogers Brown, who leaves Thursday to join the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, did not vote.

The domestic partner law, which was signed in 2003 by former Gov. Gray Davis and took effect Jan. 1, represents the nation's most comprehensive recognition of gay and lesbian domestic rights after Vermont's recognition of civil unions. It grants registered couples virtually every spousal right available under state law except the ability to file joint income taxes.

The Campaign for California Families, along with the late Sen. Pete Knight, challenged the law, saying it undermines Proposition 22 - the 2000 initiative that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Knight, a Republican from Palmdale who died after the suit was filed, was the author of that measure, which passed with 61 percent of the vote.

But Wednesday's ruling by California's justices, the final arbitrators of state law, upheld an April decision by the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento, which had ruled Proposition 22's language is clearly limited to "marriage."

By DAVID KRAVETS, AP Legal Affairs Writer
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