California has passed a law that took effect with the arrival of the new year granting gay couples nearly the same rights and responsiblities as married couples.
These rights include access to divorce court to divide assets, seeking alimony and securing child support, the status of parenthood over children that are born in the time of the couple's relationship, responsibility for each other's debts, and a guaranteed right of determining the fate of the partner's remains at death, reports the Associated Press.
The domestic partner law, however, does not allow gay couples all the benefits that a marriage would grant them. Since the same-sex relationship is not recognized by the federal government, domestic partners cannot receive Social Security survivorship benefits and will not be able to file joint income taxes.
Arguments against the new law for violating the 2000 measure, which defines unions between a man and a woman, will be heard by the California Court of Appeal early this year.