A Washington state woman, Janice Langbehn, and her partner of 18 years, Lisa Pond - not wife, you'll notice, I said "partner" - and their three kids were on vacation in Florida. Lisa collapsed of an apparent aneurysm, and Janice couldn't get in to see her before she died, though hospital staff apparently gave access to Lisa's sister as soon as she showed up. Janice had forms faxed in from Washington State showing power of attorney, legal domestic partnership, and adoption papers for their children, and she still couldn't get in to see her.
Read the full story at the NY Times.
From Lambda Legal:
Even though Langbehn held Pond’s durable health care power of attorney, the hospital refused to accept information from Langbehn regarding Pond's medical history. The hospital also informed her that she was in an antigay city and state and that she could expect to receive no information or acknowledgment as family. A doctor finally spoke with Langbehn, telling her that there was no chance of recovery. Despite the doctor's acknowledgment that no medical reason existed to prevent visitation, neither Langbehn nor her children were allowed to see Pond until nearly eight hours after their arrival.(Emphasis mine - read about the suit being brought by Lambda Legal here.)
Don't tell me that Domestic Partnerships = marriage. Don't tell me that separate is equal; we know better than that in America. The fact that this can still happen anywhere in this country is proof that we need to rescind that coward Bill Clinton's Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") at the Federal Level and provide equal protection under the law.
The fact that DOMA was written by, among others, Bob Barr (who, I crap you not, now thinks it's a bad law and should be repealed due to its heavy handed Federalism) - the Bob Barr with two divorces under his belt and with wife #3 in tow - and was signed by that pillar of marriage rectitude, Bill Clinton, is even more nauseating.
That these two conspired in a law that prevents marraige - and by extension, equal protection under the law - is beyond absurd. Are we or are we not a secular nation? Do we or do we not believe that all Americans have equal protection under the law? Am I the only American who remembers the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause!? It's right there - in Section ONE! - so even the tired and lazy can find it!
Repeal DOMA, make marriage rights equal and accessible to all, and let's end this mean-spirited public policy.
There is nothing to be gained, on a policy basis, from keeping these women apart as one lay dying. There is a tremendous price to be paid, on a human level, by the surviving, broken hearted partner and her three children.
We're bigger than this. Equal protection matters. Marriage matters. And the both matter at the Federal level.
Go here, write your congressperson, and tell him or her to vote to repeal DOMA. Go here and contact your Senators and tell them that you think it's mean-spirited and bad public policy to separate families.
And because Lisa and Janice aren't the only ones to whom this has happened, unfortunately, go here and give the Lambda Defense Fund your tithe for the month.
Hell - you can even tell 'em Bob Barr sent ya.