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Obama Directive On Hospital Visitation Rights Will Have Broad Effect

Obama Directive On Hospital Visitation Rights Will Have Broad Effect
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.