Thursday, April 15, 2010


It has taken a little time for the news to sink in. The President issued a memorandum Thursday evening declaring that persons hospitalized for any reason have the right of visitation by anyone of their choosing. Why does this matter?

There are institutions out there that would prohibit not only the visitation of a non-blood related partner, one who has power of attorney over their well being simply because they refuse to recognize the relationship. Example: Same Gender couples.

The rule change will make it easier for gay men and lesbians to make medical decisions on behalf of their partners. The president said the new rules would affect any hospital that participates in Medicare or Medicaid.

The AP printed this quote from Thursday's press event: “Every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindness and caring of a loved one at their sides. Gay men and lesbians are “uniquely affected” because they are often barred from visiting partners with whom they have spent decades."

I know I join a growing chorus of people who feel Obama could have made this effort shortly after he was sworn in. It may be a little late, but at least it's here. All to often, same-gender partners have been denied access to a patient's bedside when you'd expect it to make the most good. White House personnel are in the drafting stage of this change, so it wont happen this week, but I have to say the idea of equality in the hospital sounds sweet.

HRC's VP David Smith, was quoted in the New York Times: “It’s a huge deal! Nearly every hospital in the country will now be required to provide hospital visitation rights to LGBT families. It’s an enormous step. In the absence of equal marriage rights in most jurisdictions, this step provides an essential right to LGBT families for a gay person or a lesbian person to spend time with their partner in a critical situation.”

What prompted me to feature this topic was the AC360 story where Cooper interviewed the widowed partner of a patient in a Florida Hospital. Ms Langbehn was prohibited from the bedside of Ms Pond who suffered a brain aneurysm. Living together for over 20 years, she and their kids weren't allowed to see her until her death.

This would be a state faced with Crist & Rubio as potential republican candidates for Governor. One was comfortable with this prohibition, the other willing to roll back any resemblance of equality in the sunshine state. Now, neither will have the ability to stop unmarried, non-blood relations from visiting their loved ones at hospital bedside. Almost diminishes Rubio's reason for running.

Thank you Mr President.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This was the right move by the President. It goes beyond the law to human decency. If we consider ourselves to be a country that respects freedom of choice then we must begin to "walk the walk". President Obama deserves credit for taking this step and setting the example for all Americans to follow.