SACRAMENTO - The American Civil Liberties Union today cheered a decision by California's Court of Appeal throwing out a legal challenge by anti-gay activists to the state's comprehensive domestic partnership law.

"Today's decision is a great victory for the many families who have had to worry that they would lose the protections that our legislature chose to provide same-sex couples and their families through its domestic partnership law," said Christine Sun, a staff attorney for the ACLU. "Many couples can rest easier knowing that there are protections for their families during times of crisis."

Today's decision affirms an earlier trial court decision dismissing challenges to the domestic partnership law brought by Campaign for California Families and Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund that claimed the law violated a California law that bans recognition of marriages by same-sex couples from other states.

"While we are grateful for today's decision, it only underscores the fact that the law still comes up far short of full marriage rights," added Sun. "Lesbian and gay Californians who make the same types of commitments that married couples make shouldn't be denied the right to marry."

Equality California, as well as 12 California couples who are registered domestic partners, petitioned the court and were allowed to participate in the lawsuits brought by the anti-gay groups. The legal team representing Equality California and the 12 couples includes the Law Office of David C. Codell, the ACLU and its affiliates in Northern California, Southern California and San Diego, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Lambda Legal.

AB 205, which went into effect on January 1, 2005, provides registered domestic partners with many important protections and significant responsibilities. Protections for families headed by same-sex couples include: community property, mutual responsibility for debt, parenting rights and obligations such as custody and support, and the ability to claim a partner's body after death. The law does not allow for joint tax filing and certain other protections under state law, and does not provide access to over 1,000 federal protections that married couples enjoy.