SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A state appeals court on Tuesday denied an effort by Christian activists (search) to prevent a law that will grant same-sex couples nearly all the rights and responsibilities as married couples from taking effect on Jan. 1.
The court rejected the groups' request for an emergency stay, but is allowing the legal challenges to the law itself to move forward.
The groups — the Campaign for California Families and the Proposition 22 (search) Legal Defense and Education Fund — are appealing a September ruling by a Superior Court judge.
The judge ruled that the new law doesn't violate a voter-approved measure requiring the state to only recognize marriages between a man and a woman.
The court said it wanted briefs from the groups, as well as from the state attorney general and gay rights advocates who are fighting to uphold the law, in January.
When the new law takes effect, same-sex couples who register as domestic partners in California will have the same spousal benefits as married couples in California, except for the ability to file joint income taxes. That includes access to divorce courts, automatic parental status, and responsibility for each other's debts.