On January 18th, 2011, the LGBT community was awarded a right that should have never been denied! The United States Government put new rules into effect, called federal regulations, that say that patients – regardless of sexual orientation, can be visited by anyone they want while staying in a hospital. This victory, however, begins with a bittersweet story.
Janice Langbehn and Lisa Pond were lesbian partners taking their family on a Caribbean cruise. At the beginning of the trip, Lisa collapsed and was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida after suffering from a brain aneurysm (An abnormal, balloon-like bulging of the wall of an artery or blood vessel). Janice and their children were not allowed to visit her for the eight hours she lay dying in her hospital room.
Why were Lisa’s family members denied access? Until January 18th,same-sex couples and domestic partners had no legal right to be with a hospitalized partner because they were not a blood relative or what the law recognized as a spouse.
Janice spent the three years after Lisa’s death speaking out about the injustice she and her family had experienced. In April of 2010, President Barack Obama contacted Janice and personally apologized for her suffering. He directed the Department of Health and Human Services to develop regulations that would make sure this never happened again.
This became effective a little over a week ago!
Janice, although still hurt from her experience in the Miami hospital, is glad that something positive could come from Lisa’s death. In an interview Janice said “I believe that this will be Lisa’s legacy, that she didn’t die in vain.”
How would you feel if you weren’t allowed to visit someone you care about when they were sick? Do you think the regulations are a good idea?
Have you ever spoken up when you felt something was wrong or unfair? What happened?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
New Moon Intern