Thursday, April 15, 2010

BREAKING: President Obama orders hospitals to grant same-sex couples visitation rights

Oh my goodness, I dearly hope that this is a sign of things to come. Because I've long supported marriage equality, and I'm upset that it's taking so long for for gay friends and family members who love each other to be able to enjoy the same rights that Robert and I--and other married heterosexual couples--take for granted. And as for Don't Ask; Don't Tell, well, even conservative generals agree with me on that one--it's a hurtful, hateful policy, and it needs to go.

Still. Bravo, President Obama. As we used to yell at the Gators: First and ten--do it again!

President Obama on Thursday signed a memorandum requiring hospitals to allow gays and lesbians to have non-family visitors and to grant their partners medical power of attorney.

The president ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to prohibit discrimination in hospital visitation. The memo is scheduled to be made public Friday morning, according to an administration official and another source familiar with the White House decision.

An official said the new rule will affect any hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding.

The decision injects the president squarely into the debate over gay marriage by attempting to end the common practice by many hospitals of insisting that only family members by blood or marriage be allowed to visit patients.

UPDATE: Pam Spaulding has posted the White House memo, which begins thus:

There are few moments in our lives that call for greater compassion and companionship than when a loved one is admitted to the hospital. In these hours of need and moments of pain and anxiety, all of us would hope to have a hand to hold, a shoulder on which to lean -- a loved one to be there for us, as we would be there for them.

Yet every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides -- whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay. Often, a widow or widower with no children is denied the support and comfort of a good friend. Members of religious orders are sometimes unable to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf. Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives -- unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.

Go read the whole thing. Wow.

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