On September 19, 2003 California Governor Gray Davis signed in a law the Domestic Partners Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003, granting gay and lesbian couples most of the rights usually reserved for married heterosexual couples.
In order to be eligible for the benefits of couple must register as domestic partners. Some of the rights granted are the ability to have custody of a partners child, access to family court, the right to make funeral arrangements and access to married student housing. The law is scheduled to go into affect in January 2005.
While gay and lesbian activists applauded this giant step forward for gay rights, conservative and right wing political groups disagree.
In 2000 California voters passed Proposition 22, which states only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in the state of California.