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Assembly Bill 26 (Migden-1999)

Chapter 588, Statutes of 1999

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The 1999 Digest of Legislation prepared by the Office of Senate Floor Analyses described Assembly Bill 26 as follow:

Defines a domestic partnership and provides for its registration and termination in the State. Specifies the legal effect of a domestic partnership, establishes the validity of domestic partnerships entered into outside of the State, and establishes the right of a domestic partner and his or her child and the domestic partner of a patient’s parent to make hospital visits to a patient.

Requires group health plans and group disability insurers to offer employers and contracting agencies coverage for domestic partners of employees, in the same manner as other dependents.

Requires that if an employer elects coverage of domestic partners by a group health plan or a group disability insurer, the health plan or disability insurer that provides hospital, medical or surgical expense benefits for employees also enroll domestic partners in the same manner as other dependents.
(See Exhibit #19a, page 216)

The Senate Committee on Judiciary indicated the following regarding the need for this legislation in their analysis of Assembly Bill 26 as amended April 8, 1999:

According to the statistics quoted from SB 75 background material, hundreds of thousands of Californians cohabit without the benefit of marriage, yet their relationships could be as stable as the married couples around them. Especially to senior citizens, cohabitation with a trusted friend, male or female, could give them companionship, security and independence they so need at this time of their lives. Yet, many would not, or could not, marry due to restrictions on social security or other pension benefits that would affect their incomes.

The author states that AB 26 will help resolve the inequity in law with respect to health benefits available to employees or other group health plan subscribers. Some health plans currently offer benefits to spouses that are not available to a subscriber’s partner because the subscriber and partner are not married. The problem is the same for heterosexual couples, same-sex couples, and elderly couples who form committed and exclusive relationships, proponents say. AB 26 would ensure that “unmarried couples will not be denied access to health benefits for their partner solely because of their sexual orientation or marital status.”
(See Exhibit #8, page 3)

The documents enclosed discuss several measures that proposed to provide a statewide registry for same-sex couples and allow state and local government employers to provide health insurance to the same-sex partners of public employees prior to Assembly Bill 26. (See Exhibit #3, page 2 and #12a, pages 7 and 8)

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