A new state law in California allows gay and lesbian couples nearly all the same rights and benefits of married spouses if they choose to sign up with a state domestic partner registry.

For thousands of same-sex couples in the state, that means legal recognitions they have long dreamed about having.

California Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, author of the Domestic Partnership and Responsibilities Act (search), calls the measure historic. It grants same-sex couples everything from insurance benefits to adoption rights, but also adds responsibilities like their partner's debt.

Some legal experts, however, say the registry won't be beneficial for everyone and that several thousand people have already removed their names from the list because they're concerned about losing important financial benefits.

Yet proponents insist that joining is an important step in the march for gay rights and that in most cases, the pros will outweigh the cons for people in committed relationships.

While this law, which goes into effect in January, is one of the most far-reaching in the country in terms of gay rights, it doesn't go as far as some other states'. Massachusetts (search), for example, allows for same-sex marriage and Vermont permits same-sex couples to file joint tax returns.

Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Anita Vogel.