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Obama Directive On Hospital Visitation Rights Will Have Broad Effect

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Members of the gay community are reacting positively to President Obama's decision to require hospitals to give visitation privileges to same-sex couples. California already has such a law.

— Members of the gay community are reacting positively to President Obama's decision to require hospitals to give visitation privileges to same-sex couples. California already has such a law.

California's law governing same-sex couples who register as domestic partners took effect in 2000. It gives same-sex couples the right to hospital visitation. They also have the right to make medical decisions if a partner becomes incapacitated.

Barbara Cox is a professor at San Diego's California Western School of Law. She says the president's directive will have a wide impact.

"I mean it says it's not supposed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation," Cox says. "So I would think this would apply to unmarried heterosexual couples also, that they would be given more protections than they have now."

Cox says everyone should have the right to designate a person of their choice to make decisions should they end up in the hospital.

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