Obama Orders Greater Medical Rights For Same-Sex Partners

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Robyn Shepherd, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666; media@aclu.org

Obama Orders Greater Medical Rights For Same-Sex Partners

Tells HHS To Order Hospitals To Respect Patients’ Rights To Designate Visitors And Make Medical Decisions

NEW YORK - President
Obama has asked the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to
order all hospitals that participate in Medicaid and Medicare to allow
patients to designate who shall be allowed to visit them and make
medical decisions on their behalf. The order would allow for same-sex
partners to have the same rights as immediate family members.

“President
Obama has acknowledged that nobody should have to suffer through the
pain and anxiety of not being able to be with their loved ones in their
time of need,” said James Esseks, Director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay
Bisexual Transgender Project. “We welcome this bold step in achieving
dignity for all Americans.”

The
president's memo to the Secretary of Health and Human Services states,
“There are few moments in our lives that call for greater compassion
and companionship than when a loved one is admitted to the hospital. In
these hours of need and moments of pain and anxiety, all of us would
hope to have a hand to hold, a shoulder on which to lean – a loved one
to be there for us, as we would be there for them.” The president said
that gay and lesbian Americans are “uniquely affected” by being “unable
to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal
surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.”

“This
order hopefully signals the end of unnecessary pain for gay people by
granting same-sex couples respect and fairness during life's most dire
moments,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington
Legislative Office. “We hope that HHS will implement this order as soon
as possible.”

The
order requires that hospitals that participate in Medicaid and Medicare
not deny visitation rights based on race, color, national origin,
religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. HHS
is requested to provide the president with recommendations on
addressing hospital visitation, medical decision-making and other
health care issues that affect LGBT patients and their families within
180 days.

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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