LEGISLATION: Same-Sex Couples Have More Health Benefits
The new statewide domestic-partner law that went into effect yesterday will extend some health benefits to same-sex couples, the Los Angeles Times reports. Under the law, homosexual couples that are registered as domestic partners will now have hospital visitation rights as well as health insurance for the dependents of state employees covered by CalPERS, the state's retirement system. The state expects "tens of thousands" of couples to register (Pyle, 1/4). To meet the legal definition of domestic partnership, same-sex couples must be over 18, live together, be jointly responsible for living expenses and not related by blood in any way that would preclude their marrying. Heterosexual couples over age 62, who often do not marry to keep Social Security benefits, are also eligible to register as domestic partners (Herscher, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/4).
A First Step
The new law does not extend to same-sex couples all the benefits that married couples receive. Homosexual couples are ineligible for Social Security benefits, health coverage after the death of the state employee and they are not empowered to make medical decisions for each other. The law also does not make it easier for same-sex couples with children to share health care coverage with their children (Pyle, 1/4).