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Hospital visitation and decision-making rights extended to gays, lesbians

April 15, 2010

President Obama has mandated that the vast majority of hospitals must allow people to designate who can visit and make decisions for them, a move primarily aimed at gays and lesbians, The Washington Post reports. The change isn’t expected to take effect for a few months, but it’ll be aimed at all hospitals that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding, which is the “vast majority” of them, according to the article.

Of course anti-LGBT forces are already mobilizing to say this somehow “undermines the definition of marriage,” as the Family Research Council told the post, but word has it Obama was moved by the story of a lesbian couple who were tragically separated by a hospital. From the article:

Officials said Obama had been moved by the story of a lesbian couple in Florida, Janice Langbehn and Lisa Pond, who were kept apart when Pond collapsed of a cerebral aneurysm in February 2007, dying hours later at a hospital without her partner and children by her side…

“I kept saying it’s not a gay right to hold someone’s hand when they die, it’s a human right,” she said, noting that she and Pond had been partners for almost 18 years. “Now to have the president call up and say he agrees with me, it’s pretty amazing, and very humbling.”

This is just one notch off the list of the many inequalities we need to erase, and it’s not always encouraging that the ones the White House seems willing to give us focus on death and dying (also see: The Matthew Shepard Act). But these are significant victories both in the recognition we’re receiving and, more importantly, in the direct impact this particular move has on our lives. This is one less burden we have to bear.

Update: The New York Times’ story has a copy of the letter (PDF).

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 23, 2010 3:06 pm

    That’s a pretty hard story to hear and I just can’t imagine why anyone would ever stand in the way of someone holding the hand of a loved one in this situation. This isn’t really an issue here (UK), but I hope that this is sorted asap to avoid these situations. I can’t believe anyone would try to even make a connection with marriage in this situation. Rah!

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