California’s governor, Jerry Brown. has signed into law a measure to encourage companies to give equal benefits to the spouses of gay employees.

The legislation, authored by Democrat Senator Christine Kehoe, says that state agency contracts over $100,000 will only be awarded to companies who give gay employees the same benefits as straight workers.

Ms Kehoe said in a statement: “Providing the same benefits to an employee with a domestic partner, or same-sex or opposite-sex spouse ensures that workers receive equal pay for equal work.

“California should lead the way for other employers to provide benefits that are non-discriminatory.”

Roland Palencia, executive director of Equality California, added: “The state’s tax dollars earned by hardworking Californians should not be invested in companies that unfairly discriminate against LGBT people and their families.

“The Equal Benefits bill will ensure that the state does not enter into major contracts with companies that discriminate against same-sex couples. We are grateful to have Governor Brown and Senator Kehoe continuing the fight for the rights of all California workers.”

Equality California says Los Angeles, Sacramento, Oakland, Berkeley, San Mateo County, San Diego and Santa Monica already have similar ordinances.