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Legislative Memo: Preventing Discrimination On The Basis Of Sexual Orientation

This bill was passed in the Assembly and delivered to the Senate, where it was referred to the Insurance Committee. The bill was stalled in committee and did not pass in the 2005 legislative session.

This bill would amend the insurance law to prevent insurance companies from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. The New York Civil Liberties Union strongly supports equal protection under the law for gays, lesbians and bisexuals and we strongly urge the passage of this bill.

In particular, this bill would outlaw the practice of insurance companies charging higher rates, making stipulations on the services rendered or the amount of the policy, rejecting the policy, and refusing to renew, issue or sell a policy to a person due to their sexual orientation.

Insurance law currently affords these protections against discrimination based on an applicant’s race, color, creed, national origin and disability. This bill also would make it illegal for a company to inquire about a person’s sexual orientation in its insurance application process.

The right to legal equality for gays, lesbians and bisexuals rests upon several fundamental constitutional principles. The fundamental right to privacy is guaranteed by the Fourth, Fifth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Several Supreme Court rulings have underscored the principle that decisions about intimate relationships are personal and should be left up to the individual, including Griswold v. Connecticut, Loving v. Virginia, Eisenstadt v. Baird, Roe v. Wade, and Lawrence v. Texas.

Accordingly, the equality principle of the Fourteenth Amendment should be understood as protecting individuals against discrimination on the basis of sexual preference or orientation.

Discrimination against applicants for insurance based upon sexual orientation should not be permitted. The NYCLU supports the passage of this bill.

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