Opinions and Rants

What if My Partner Needed Surgery?

As I sit here in the hospital waiting for my mom to have her surgery, I can’t help but think of how this would work if my partner was the one in need of surgery.

The hospital has a pretty good set up for those waiting on loved ones who are getting surgery. They gave me a sheet that has my mom’s case number on it. I can use that to track her progress in surgery on a screen that is in the waiting room. They also gave me a “buzzer” which reminds me of those buzzers restaurants give people while they wait for a table. This is used to notify me when my mom is ready to be seen after surgery or when the doctor is ready to speak to me about her outcome.

I really appreciate how I can keep close track of her progress, but I can’t help but wonder how the hospital would treat me if it was my partner having surgery, not my mom.

It wasn’t very long ago that I would not be allowed to see my partner if he was in the hospital. Previous hospital guidelines as well as laws stated that the only people who could visit a patient while in the hospital were either blood relatives or a spouse.

This all changed in January 2011 when President Obama with the approval of the Department of Health and Human Services passed a new mandate requiring hospitals who participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs to no longer discriminate individuals based on sexual orientation (ABCNews.com). According to the new law, hospitals must inform all patients or their attending friend or family member of their visitation rights. This policy also prohibits discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

This is a huge step in equality for the LGBT community. For the longest time, those in same-sex relationships faced the frightening thought of not being able to see the person they loved simply because their relationship was not recognized as being valid.

Janice Langbehn, who was barred from her partner Lisa Pond’s bedside at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami for eight hours after she suffered an aneurysm in 2007, hailed the development as bittersweet justice.

“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.”

I am relieved to know that if this was my partner who was having surgery today, I would be able to visit him and our relationship would be treated equally. Not only is this policy a sign of the onward direction to full equality for the LGBT community, it is also a sign that the Federal Government is finally beginning to recognize same-sex relationships as being valid ones. This step forward is something that stirs up the feelings of hope that one day soon all LGBT Americans will have full equal rights.

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