Embattled California governor Gray Davis announced Saturday that he will sign legislation giving domestic partners most of the state-level rights and protections enjoyed by married couples. The bill has passed the state assembly and is scheduled to be considered today by the senate appropriations committee. Davis usually doesn't indicate how he feels about legislation before it reaches his desk, but he's done so for a number of bills recently, including measures dealing with access to abortion and driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. Aides say the announcements have nothing to do with Davis's efforts to fend off a recall attempt.
Davis said the legislation drafted by Democratic assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg helps ensure "fairness for all Californians. As governor I will continue to do everything within my power to honor the
dignity, humanity, and privacy of every Californian regardless of their ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, or sexual orientation," Davis said. The domestic-partner bill would, among other things, allow domestic partners to file joint state income tax returns and give them the same tax exemptions
enjoyed by married couples. It would also give them the same rights as married couples regarding the
acquisition, transfer, and sharing of property; health insurance and pension coverage; and collection of government benefits, including public assistance. "When this bill is signed, it will be a truly historic day for everyone who supports civil rights," said Geoffrey Kors, executive director of Equality California, a gay rights group.