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California Enacts Broad Genetic Discrimination Law

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Governor of California has signed into law a measure to provide protection from discrimination on the basis of genetic information that goes beyond the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008 by covering life insurance, housing, and employment.

Governor Jerry Brown's office said today that he signed the CA Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act (SB 559), which amends two standing anti-discrimination laws in the state, the Jesse Unruh Civil Rights Act and the Fair Employment and Housing Act, by extending them to cover genetic discrimination in the areas of health and life insurance coverage, housing, mortgage lending, employment, education, public accommodations, and elections.

"Discrimination on the basis of genetic information is no less offensive than discrimination based on race, gender, or sexual orientation," the bill's author, State Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) said in a statement when the bill cleared the State Assembly in August.

"California has a compelling interest in promoting and fostering the medical promise of genomics while relieving the fear of discrimination by strengthening laws to prevent it."

The new law defines genetic information as being about an individual's genetic tests, tests of family members, or the manifestation of a disease or disorder among an individual's family members, and it covers information from genetics services and participation in clinical research.

GINA is a federal law that prohibits health insurers and employers from making coverage and hiring decisions based on information from genetic tests.

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