July 2, 2008
Dear The Body,
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation applauds the recent California Supreme Court decision to overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriage, an important step towards equality for all Californians. The Foundation strongly supports marriage equality both because it is an important civil rights issue, and because there is emerging evidence that suggests gay marriage may be an effective HIV prevention strategy.
However, while we celebrate this decision, the Foundation understands the importance for people living with HIV to be fully aware of the many issues raised by this landmark decision. Currently the state is reviewing the effect that the Supreme Court decision will have on financial eligibility requirements for same-sex couples, which will be particularly important for people relying on publicly funded programs such as Medi-Cal, the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), Ryan White-funded services or other assistance programs that are based upon financial need.
While most health care and other assistance programs are Federal and State programs, financial eligibility is determined at the state level. Different income and asset requirements apply to those who are single than to those who are married. Typically the financial status of both partners in a marriage is combined when determining eligibility for most public programs.
Administrators of Medi-Cal, ADAP, and other public programs are currently deciding whether partners in same-sex marriages will be considered as individuals or as members of a couple when determining eligibility. There are many issues to investigate, given that same sex marriages are recognized in California but not at the federal level. Another important issue is the state's November ballot measure that, if passed, could overturn the California Supreme Court's decision. Administrators have assured advocates that they share a sense of urgency about providing clear guidance for same-sex couples thinking about marriage.
Working together with Project Inform and other HIV/AIDS, LGBT, and legal organizations, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation will continue to follow this issue -- including whether it has any implications for domestic partnerships -- and will provide updated information as it becomes available. Please continue to check the Foundation's website and register for our HIV Advocacy Network (http://www.sfaf.org/han) if you wish to receive email updates.