Hospital Visitation Rights for Gay, Lesbian Partners Take Effect

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Langbehn Kept From Partner's Bedside

"LGBT people experience discrimination in many aspects of their lives, but it is perhaps at its worst during times of crisis," said Joe Solmonese, president of Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group. "We thank President Obama and HHS Secretary [Kathleen] Sebelius for recognizing the hardships LGBT people face and taking this important step toward ensuring that no one will be turned away from a partner's hospital bedside again."

Langbehn said anti-gay animus at Jackson Memorial was behind her being kept in the dark on Pond's condition and denied access to her bedside.

"I was told by the social worker, 'You're in an anti-gay city and state. You won't get to see her without paperwork,'" she said. "I said I have that paperwork, I have the durable power of attorney. But I never saw the gentleman again in the eight hours of waiting."

She immediately called a friend to fax health care proxies and documentation of durable power of attorney but the hospital disregarded the documents.

The hospital has denied that one of its social workers made any such comment and that saving Pond's life was the doctors' top priority. Officials have also denied any double standard for Langbehn based on her sexual orientation.

While Langbehn was ultimately granted a brief visit with her dying wife, accompanied by a priest who was performing last rites, she was not allowed to stay. "No one should die alone," she said.

Now, nearly four years later, Langbehn said she finds some consolation in knowing that Pond's donated organs saved four lives that still live on.

"Her heart went to a Florida man. He was an anti-gay, right-wing guy. Former military service member. I was afraid to tell him," she said of her sexual orientation. "But, he said, 'You're my family now.' He's a wonderful man. I call him the keeper of Lisa's heart."

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