Seventeen years after its approval by the state Assembly, the New York Senate has finally approved the Family Health Care Decisions Act. Domestic partners will now have priority over biological family members when it comes to the medical needs of an incapacitated partner. Via press release from the Empire State Pride Agenda (my bolding):
New York has been one of just two states where without a health care proxy, no one—not a domestic partner, spouse, or family member—could make health care decisions when the patient lacked the ability to do so. This gap in state law has sometimes forced loved ones to seek medical decision-making authority from a judge at the very time they should be focusing all their attention on caring for their partner.
Now, loved ones including same-sex spouses who were married out-of-state or fit the domestic partnership definition will have the ability to make these decisions. The domestic partnership definition is expansive, and includes those who may not be able to formally record their relationship because there is no domestic partner registry where they live. The Pride Agenda was instrumental in the redrafting of this domestic partner language to make sure it was uniform with all other domestic partner definitions in state law, such as that found in the hospital visitation bill that became law in 2004 and the control of bodily remains bill that became law in 2006.
Gov. Paterson has pledged to sign the bill.