The California legislature has enacted three measures that focus on civil-rights protections for homosexuals.

The legislation, which Gov. Gray Davis signed October 4, grants spousal benefits to same-sex couples, fines business and property owners who consider sexual orientation in hiring or housing, and authorizes the public education system to foster better understanding of homosexuals.

Randy Thomasson of the Capitol Resource Institute in Sacramento says the bills will make speaking about homosexuality from a biblical perspective "highly suspect."

Thomasson calls the laws "a loss for families and for people of religious faith." One bill recognizes homosexual partnerships by creating a state registry for gay partners and allows local government workers to get health benefits for their partners. Another forbids housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Assemblyman Steve Baldwin, who opposed the measure, says the law will clash with many people's religious convictions. "If a church runs a boarding house and they kick someone out because they engage in a homosexual lifestyle, they will be heavily fined," Baldwin says. The third law is designed to protect gay students and teachers from harassment, but has a provision that precludes public schools from participating in sports or interscholastic activities with private schools that do not grant the same privileges to homosexuals. Gov. Davis calls the legislation an attempt to "beat back the forces of hatred."

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