SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – Four new gay rights laws take effect in California January 1, 2011.

Advocates championed the legislation, describing the laws as difficult to achieve.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

Same-sex marriages weren’t currently legal in California, though interestingly, one of the new laws pertained to same-sex divorce.

That’s because 18,000 gay couples did wed legally in California, and a new law would let those couples end their marriages and prior domestic partnerships, simultaneously.

“If today, for instance, I wanted to separate from my partner I would have to go through a legal process to dissolve my domestic partnership and then another legal process to dissolve my marriage,” explained Jim Carroll with Equality California.

Starting Saturday, that could all be done at once.

Another new law allows gays and lesbians under the age of 18 to secure mental health counseling without first obtaining parental permission.

“Too many kids when they come out to their parents actually end up homeless,” Carroll warned. “If they’re actually struggling with the issues surrounding coming out and they are afraid to discuss those with their parents or they want help from somebody in how to discuss them with their parents, they weren’t actually able to access those services.”

There is also a new law that will let same sex couples about to become domestic partners get the same unemployment benefits available to straight couples who are engaged.

“It’s just part of trying to create equality. It’s a slow, incremental process,” said Carroll.

The fourth and final new law repeals a decades-old law requiring state health officials to find a “cure” for homosexuality.

“It was from the 1950s but it was still on the books.”

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