Rally For Domestic Partnership Bill

Santa Fe – Dozens of supporters have gathered at the New Mexico Capitol in support of domestic partnership legislation that has the backing of Gov. Bill Richardson.

The legislation would give unmarried same-sex and opposite-sex couples the legal protections and benefits of married couples on issues ranging from medical decision-making to adoption and child support.

The crowd outside the Capitol erupted into cheers during Monday's rally when bill sponsor Democratic Rep. Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque said it was time to "end government discrimination of New Mexico citizens." The crowd carried signs that read "Fairness for All" and "Yes on SB183."

Critics argue domestic partnerships are a stepping stone to same-sex marriage, but supporters contend the issue is about civil rights.

The legislation will be considered during a joint Senate committee hearing Tuesday.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.