Cases like this one, in Florida, where a woman died apart from her partner who was denied access
Or this one, in Washington, where a woman was told "get out, you don't belong here!" as her partner died.
So we have to be happy at some level that the President has issued a memorandum that everyone should have the right to have a loved one with them, regardless of status.
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.And then mandates access. That's nice, isn't it?
Of course, it's not limited to Teh Gay, so it may be a little more palatable to some. But if you think this means marriage equality somehow no longer matters? As Andrew Sullivan says,
I fear it's a way to tell gays they cannot marry. The Democrats will say: see, you can already have hospital visitation rights. Now please stop alienating people with all this civil rights talk. And the Human Rights Campaign can last a thousand years mediating these morsels of compassion from the executive branch. I favor the right to designate anyone in advance as your next of kin in hospital. But for gays, I favor merely the same rights as straights. Which means to say: no more and no less than civil marriage.
Update This WaPo article is very congratulatory. But wouldn't it have been more effective for them to say, "this is why we have to repeal DOMA?"
Kerry Eleveld in the Advocate writes,
But as I look at the list of advancements President Obama has made for LGBT Americans, I can’t escape noticing that nearly all of them fall under the heading “Too politically palatable to have a downside.”
It’s an ever-growing list of small, incremental steps toward equality that are most certainly positive but still fall far short of the campaign promises that Sen. Barack Obama ran on.....
The problem with these advances is that almost every one of them could essentially be swept away by the next administration. Just look at what kind of havoc Virginia governor Bob McDonnell has wreaked in Virginia in terms of rolling back discrimination protections for LGBT people. ...
President Obama has two glaring opportunities to create lasting change this year: the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal. Passing either one of them would mark the single biggest advancement for LGBT equality in this nation's history, but that window of opportunity narrows with every passing day.
I unequivocally applaud the president's action, but I also never witnessed a campaign rally where Obama told a roaring crowd of supporters, “And as president, I will confer certain benefits on same-sex couples!”
I am a gay, married Californian whose marriage evaporates when I leave this state. When is our fierce advocate going to give me equal protection?