Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why Marriage Equality Matters: lesson from Florida

In Florida, a woman collapsed and a hospital refused to let her partner or kids in to see her or have any say in her care despite a medical power of attorney. She died. The partner sued. Remarkably, the court's response is a "Tough @%$":

Lambda Legal reports,
While on a family cruise leaving from Miami, Lisa Pond, a healthy 39 year-old, suddenly collapsed. She was rushed to Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital with her partner Janice and three children following close behind. There, the hospital refused to accept information from Janice about her partner's medical history. Janice was informed that she was in an antigay city and state, and she could expect to receive no information or acknowledgment as Lisa's partner or family.

A doctor finally spoke with Janice telling her that there was no chance of recovery. Other than one five minute visit that was arranged by a Catholic priest at Janice's request to perform last rites, and despite the doctor's acknowledgement that no medical reason existed to prevent visitation, neither Janice - who provided the hospital with a medical Power of Attorney document - nor their children were allowed to see Lisa until nearly eight hours after their arrival. Soon after Lisa's death, Janice tried to get her death certificate in order to get life insurance and Social Security benefits for their children. She was denied both by the State of Florida and the Dade County Medical Examiner.

Today's ruling comes after the Public Health Trust of the Miami Dade County, the governing body of Jackson Memorial Hospital, filed a motion to dismiss the case. The court ruled that the hospital has neither an obligation to allow their patients' visitors nor any obligation whatsoever to provide their patients' families, healthcare surrogates, or visitors with access to patients in their trauma unit. The court has given the Langbehn-Pond family until October 16 to review the ruling and consider all legal options.
So please, haters and bigots who oppose marriage equality and civil partnerships: explain to me why you think this is a just and proper response to a loving family ripped apart by an awful tragedy. Does this make you smile? Does it make you happy? It must, because this is exactly what you are praying for: that gay families have no rights whatsoever, that gay people die alone. What on earth justifies treating any loving family in this way? Do you really think this is what Jesus would have you do?

This family did everything right on legal grounds, and they were treated like scum by people who probably consider themselves "Christians" (at least it sounds like the family got some help from a Catholic priest, good for him). I hope there's a hot couch in hell for that hospital staff for their bigotry and needless emotional violence against that suffering family. And I hope that the justices of the District Court never sleep again without nightmares of their loved ones dying alone, while they rail and wail in a remote waiting room.

Meanwhile, this story should be held up from Maine to Washington as a major reason WHY IT MATTERS. Force the bad guys to defend the indefensible. I hope someone makes a Youtube about this--I'll post any competent viral video on my blogs and accounts if you do.

More commentary at PamsHouseBlend.

The surviving partner, Janice, comments on her blog.


Erp said...

Agreed, while the court may be technically right that the hospital can refuse to admit family this is only for health reasons (e.g., the patient has ebola and is highly infectious). However in this case the family would have been allowed except the hospital refused to recognize the family as family (I wonder if this ever happens to mixed race couples).

Ann said...

Rage returning.

Elizabeth said...

absolutely obscene!! How can anyone be so uncaring? This is what hate does to people.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

What the others said!

Counterlight said...

Michael and I are living the Florida dream here in New York, though nothing nearly as drastic or catastrophic. We are currently going through a run-around between the insurance company and my employer over getting him re-instated on my health insurance policy after he was arbitrarily taken off. I'm convinced that if we were a hetero married couple, our treatment by all concerned would be very different.

IT said...

I'm' sure you are right, counterlight.

THIS Is what GLBT couples face all the time in our country. It's more than past time that we challenge the haters with evidence of their hate.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Horrible. Just horrible.

JCF said...

It's sooooooo important these kind of stories are told, and become widely known.

Are you listening, Obama? Pelosi? Reid? Justices of the SC? Etc, etc?

NancyP said...

I agree that there should be a hot couch in hell's eternal waiting room for those hospital staff WHO SHOULD KNOW BETTER. I would also like to report the staff to their licensure board for refusing to listen to the medical history offered by the patient's partner. GROSSLY UNPROFESSIONAL. Failure to take history could represent grounds for a lawsuit, if the history could have aided prompt diagnosis. Finally, is there any reason (aside from visiting family living in FL) to vacation in or from FL?