- The Washington Times - Friday, December 19, 2003

A California judge has ruled that the state can begin implementing its sweeping domestic partnership law next month, despite legal protests that the new law illegally creates same-sex “marriage.”

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Thomas Cecil’s decision Thursday was hailed as a victory by homosexual rights groups. But traditional values groups, which are suing to block the new law, were heartened that Judge Cecil did not throw out their case altogether.

“We are pleased the judge did not dismiss the case. It is proceeding,” said Joseph Infranco, vice president of the Alliance Defense Fund of Scottsdale, Ariz.

He said that the next legal arguments before Judge Cecil would likely be in the spring.

At issue is AB 205, which was signed in September by former Gov. Gray Davis. The new law extends “the rights and duties of marriage to persons registered as domestic partners on and after Jan. 1, 2005.” The new rights include child custody, child support, court immunity, medical leave and debt liability.

Homosexuals and unmarried heterosexuals over age 62 can register as domestic partners in California.

State officials were making plans to mail information about the new law Jan. 1 to registered domestic partners when two traditional values groups sued to stop them.

The first goal is to stop the government from spending funds “to publicize ‘gay marriage by another name,’” said Randy Thomasson, executive director of the Campaign for California Families.

Mr. Thomasson and his group, which is represented by Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel in Florida, say AB 205 violates the voter-approved Proposition 22, which says the “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

Proposition 22 “was intended to protect the institution of marriage, including all rights, benefits and duties of marriage,” says the Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing state Sen. William “Pete” Knight, lead sponsor of Proposition 22, and the Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund in a separate but similar lawsuit.

Homosexual rights groups applauded Judge Cecil’s decision to deny the plaintiffs’ request to block California from implementing the new law.

The ruling “is a victory not only for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, but for all fair-minded Californians who believe that families should be treated equally under the law, regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of family members,” said Geoffrey Kors, executive director of Equality California.

Equality California and 12 homosexual couples who are registered as domestic partners joined the lawsuit to defend AB 205. Los Angeles lawyer David Codell, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Lambda Legal are also participating in the suit.

Said Mr. Codell: “It’s great news for all the California couples who need these protections that the court does not think challenges to the law are likely to succeed.”

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