Monday, February 9, 2009

When Rules Trump Decency Because Gay Love is Illegal

Photo courtesy of Miami Herald

"As her partner of 17 years slipped into a coma, Janice Langbehn pleaded with doctors and anyone who would listen to let her into the woman's hospital room.

Eight anguishing hours passed before Langbehn would be allowed into Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center. By then, she could only say her final farewell as a priest performed the last rites on 39-year-old Lisa Marie Pond.

Jackson staffers advised Langbehn that she could not see Pond earlier because the hospital's visitation policy in cases of emergency was limited to immediate family and spouses -- not partners. In Florida, same-sex marriages or partnerships are not recognized. On Friday, two years after her partner's death, Langbehn and her attorneys were in federal court, claiming emotional distress and negligence in a suit they filed last June.

Jackson attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the case on grounds that the hospital has no obligation to allow patients' visitors.

Following a hearing lasting more than an hour Friday, U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan said he would try to decide soon whether the case could proceed to trial. He gave no specific date."

Source: Miami Herald, Friday, February 6, 2009 (Click here for the entire article).

Such is the sad tale of a woman who only desired to be at the bedside of her partner. All this trauma was preventable. Only if this Sunshine State recognized at least domestic partnerships.

For me, love is a "beautiful thing," to borrow a cliche. So if this love is true and tried, then why not accord it the dignity it deserves? Why not offer it the recognition society claims bonds the relationship? And hasn't this woman--and countless of other gay couples in committed relationships--demonstrated that they do meet the obligations of such sanctified unions? Are we a better society if we allow such tragedies to play out?

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