AUGUSTA, Maine – Dozens of same-sex couples filled out domestic partnership forms and paid $35 to be entered in a new state registry that went into effect Friday.
"The state is acknowledging we have some kind of relationship, so by God, we're going to do it," said Harold Booth, who registered with his partner, Daniel Kelley.
Declaration of Domestic Partnership (search) forms do not create a marriage between partners, who must live together for at least 12 months and pay $35 to be entered into the state registry.
The form also "is not a substitute for a will, a deed or a partnership agreement," according to the new domestic registry law.
But the law does allow a domestic partner to inherit property in case one of the couple dies without a will, trust or other estate planning. It also considers a domestic partner the next of kin when determining the right to make funeral or burial arrangements, and considers that person a guardian when the other partner is incapacitated.
A New Jersey law recognizing domestic partnerships went into effect earlier this month, and domestic partner benefits have been granted in California and Hawaii. Vermont has approved civil unions and Massachusetts recently legalized same-sex marriage.
Maine's domestic registry law covers both same-sex and heterosexual couples.
"Today marks a triumph of decency over discrimination," said Democratic state Rep. Benjamin Dudley, who sponsored the domestic registry law.
Gov. John Baldacci (search) signed the legislation in April.
Maine is among the states with a Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and woman and bars the recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states.
The Christian Civic League of Maine (search), which opposed the registry, said on its Web site: "We believe that the domestic partnership initiative is one step toward the eventual goal of same-sex marriage."