Wednesday, January 19, 2011

LGBT Partners Gain Visitation Rights

Under new federal regulations that came into effect this week, nearly all hospitals in the United States are extending visitation rights to LGBT patients. The new regulations, part of the Obama administration's continuing efforts to expand the rights of LGBT citizens, mandate that all health-care institutions receiving federal aid in the form of Medicare or Medicaid funding must "allow all patients to decide visitation rights, as well as who to entrust with making medical decisions on their behalf, regardless of sexual or gender identity."

The Obama administration's review of discriminatory visitation policies was prompted in part by the tragic story of Janice Langbehn and her children, who were barred from seeing Langbehn's partner, Lisa Pond, after she suffered a brain aneurysm in 2007. Langbehn welcomed the news of the new regulations taking effect, but also described the lasting pain caused by the discriminatory policies the new regulations are designed to prevent:
"Other couples, no matter how they define themselves as families, won't have to go through what we went through, and I am grateful," she said. "But the fact that the hospital didn't let our children say goodbye to their mom... That's just something that will haunt me forever."
To follow up the the implementation of the new hospital regulations and the repeal of DADT, advocates for LGBT rights are now eying further policy changes, including:
The use of more gender-neutral language on federal forms, assurances that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide proper assistance to gay and lesbian people and their children during disaster relief efforts, and a nondiscriminatory policy for the Transportation Security Administration that addresses the treatment of transgender air passengers.

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