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October 21, 2009

America
Posted by Patrick at 11:06 PM *

Also, this.

Do better.

Comments on America:
#1 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2009, 12:40 AM:

Seems like every generation the US needs to realize that there's yet another group of people who are somehow considered less than equal to the rest of the nation. Thank all the gods for those of us who never believed in that inequality.

#2 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2009, 12:53 AM:

I put a few dollars where my mouth is. Hmmm... That doesn't sound right, but you know what I mean. Yay for Real Americans! Star & Stripes Forever!

#3 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2009, 01:48 AM:

I've seen this posted in blogs of all stripes. I imagine that all but the "yes but," people agree with Philip. My dad was of Philips' generation, and served during World War II. I would like to think that he would fully support Philip's thoughts.

#4 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2009, 01:55 AM:

#3: In forty years the yes, but people will go all pious when this guy is mentioned and claim to have been for equal rights all along.

#5 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2009, 02:03 AM:

The story under the link titled "this" is horrific. A social worker telling a woman whose life partner is in the hospital with an aneurysm that "this is an anti-gay state" and refusing to allow her to see her partner?

That person needs to find a new field of work.

#6 ::: sciamanna ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2009, 06:45 AM:

Does anybody have a link to a transcript? I have some real trouble understanding what he's saying.

#7 ::: Luke McGuff ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2009, 07:15 AM:

Nicola Griffith posted about the Langbehn-Pond family.

Residents of Washington state should vote to APPROVE REF. 71.

#8 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2009, 07:36 AM:

Linkmeister@5: agreed that the story is horrific, but my reading was that the social worker wasn't the one refusing to let her in, but was just telling her that this was how the laws were in Florida and he couldn't do anything about it. I may have read that wrong, though, and you could reasonably argue that he ought to have stayed and fought for her rights in any case.

As for the video, a great reply when he was asked at the polling station whether he believed in LGBT equality. But Americans may be able to help me here: why was he being asked in the first place? I assume this was just over-enthusiastic canvassing - I hope it wasn't anything more sinister than that.

#10 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2009, 09:11 AM:

@7: It's worth noting that she did have a health care proxy and still didn't get to see her spouse until it was too late. Based on this account and others I've read, I think she and her spouse had done all the things a gay couple is supposed to do so that this situation can not happen. That it did anyway exposes as a lie the contention that gay couples don't need marriage because they can get the same (hah!) benefits via a complicated set of legal documents.

(This is not even considering that the issue of why getting those benefits should be so much harder for one group of people than for another. Of course, it's not the same benefits at all. Also, does this sort of thing happen to committed heterosexual couples who aren't married? Or does the social worker do the right thing rather than the legally justified thing?)

Yes, I suppose had the couple been legally married, the hospital could have still denied her access. That, however, would have required those workers to be explicitly homophobic rather than to merely cower behind the shield of procrustean law.

(Oh, and thank you, Patrick, for reminding me. I just donated to Protect Maine Equality.)

#11 ::: sciamanna ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2009, 11:06 AM:

@8 Kelly McCullogh: Thanks!

#12 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2009, 11:49 AM:

@candle #7 - my reading was that the social worker wasn't the one refusing to let her in, but was just telling her that this was how the laws were in Florida and he couldn't do anything about it.

Let's say you're right, and the social worker was just relaying an opinion on the law. Well, that opinion was incorrect. Nowhere in FL law does it say that hospitals are required to ignore durable power of attorney documents for same sex couples.

It may have been the policy of the hospital to ignore them, but that's not a state policy. The state may even allow for it, but it sure as hell doesn't mandate it.

#13 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2009, 11:53 AM:

Washington State also has a ballot initiative up, and like Maine, it's an attempt to stop something the legislature already decided, a bill that provides that for all purposes under state law, state registered domestic partners shall be treated the same as married spouses and that provisions of the act shall be liberally construed to achieve equal treatment, to the extent not in conflict with federal law.

It's not marriage, but it would help to remove a lot of the discrimination-by-default against same-sex couples.

#14 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2009, 12:47 PM:

candle (#8, was #7 before mod release): if the law in Florida truly does require hospitals to ignore legal power of attorney documents then the law is in violation of Art. 1, Sec. 10 of the US Constitution:"No State shall [...] pass any [...] Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts".

Despite what the "social worker" said (scare quotes because I certainly hope that there's a professional code of ethics with some teeth to it that may be applied here), I find it very hard to believe that Florida law could do so.

#15 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2009, 12:58 PM:

Let's say you're right, and the social worker was just relaying an opinion on the law. Well, that opinion was incorrect. Nowhere in FL law does it say that hospitals are required to ignore durable power of attorney documents for same sex couples.

Fair enough. Being outside the US and (thankfully) unfamiliar with hospital procedures even here in the UK, I have no idea about the true legal situation. John Chu's comment at #10 was very helpful too. It looks to me now that you are right that the social worker was certainly unjustified and probably malign in not disputing the hospital policy (if such it was).

But I fully agree that even if this were hospital policy or even state law it would be indefensible on multiple grounds, starting with simple humanity.

I'm sorry if I offended anyone with an ill-informed comment.

#16 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2009, 01:00 PM:

Damn! Fell right into the weasel-apology trap from the sidelights. Let me try again.

I'm sorry that I offended some people here with what was an unnecessary and ill-informed comment.

#17 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2009, 04:15 PM:

Keith (my fiancé) and I have decided that we're donating to Equality NC in lieu of wedding favors.

It just ain't right that we could go to the courthouse tomorrow morning, get hitched in a few minutes, and the only fallout would be from our parents, upset that they weren't invited.

John Chu @ 10, I do not know about what would have happened in that particular situation had they been a hetero unmarried couple. I do know that when I ended up in the ER with high fever and dehydration with the Probably Swine Flu, Keith was beside me every minute for 12 hours, and the only time our marital status was questioned was to find out whether he was allowed to sign a paper for me, or whether I had to sign it myself. That was during intake. No one ever questioned his right to go everywhere I went, stay beside me every moment, advocate for me with doctors and nurses.

I talked about this here before, and I can't remember who said that we were passing as married. That's such a good way of putting it.

That conversation was during a discussion of the story of Lisa Pond and Janice Langbehn. And reading that speech just made me cry, and then rage. My God, my God.

#18 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2009, 05:30 PM:

Quite honestly, there should always be at least one person designated as "full access" to a sick person, be it spouse, child, parent, or friend. I don't see why somebody who is sick should not have constant companionship if he or she so desires.

I can't imagine being alone in a hospital bed and being told that I couldn't have any visitors at all because none of them were the properly designated spouse. That's just wrong on so many levels.

#19 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2009, 02:13 AM:

candle: I think your first apology was fine. The conditional was an apology to those who were offended, not one that shifted the onus.

You didn't say you were sorry, if they were offended, you said you were sorry if you had offended.

Which is a perfectly accpetable way to apologise.

#20 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2009, 02:19 AM:

I was housesitting last weekend for a couple. They were visiting his family in NH, and then he stayed on (until this weekend), to campaign against Measure 1.

Housesitting, so they could do that seemed the least I could do for the cause.

#21 ::: rjh ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2009, 11:02 AM:

The court opinion on the Florida behavior was clear. The judge considered the behavior appalling, but it complied with the letter of Florida law. Florida law required that the power of attorney let the partner be involved in medical decisions. She was. (You don't have to see the patient to answer treatment questions from doctors.) From the court opinion it's not clear what the social worker's personal opinion was, but the statements did reflect hospital policy accurately. So the court ruled that it could not penalize the hospital or staff. The law in Florida permits barbaric treatment of families.

It's not only with gays that Florida law is barbaric. The court found over a dozen prior rulings on equally barbaric treatment, all of which held that the law was clear and that hospitals have no obligation to treat families with any dignity or respect in Florida. The other barbaric treatments did not involve gays. They were motivated by everything from lazy indifference to class differences.

#22 ::: Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2009, 01:24 PM:

"This is an anti-gay state" doesn't have to mean the law requires hospitals to ignore power of attorney - it could also mean "the people of this state are generally homophobic, and will ignore your power of attorney if anywhere within their legal right to do so."

#23 ::: Rick York ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2009, 05:09 PM:

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, Section 1, 2nd sentence:

"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

The Law of the land. Does anyone see anything there which singles out any group of people to whom this amendment would not apply?

Unfortunately, the ruling mentioned in Nicola Griffith's blog (Thanks Luke McGuff@7-read it!) explains why Gay Rights groups don't seem to have brought this whole issue up to the Supremes. The very idea that a Federal judge could dismiss the Langbehn lawsuit is beyond belief and is fundamentally evil and inhumane. Unfortunately, given the current composition of the Supreme Court, there's slim hope that these legitimate grievances shall be redressed.

Yes, I am inarticulately outraged that this is even an issue in the 21st century.

#24 ::: The AstroDyke ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2009, 05:13 PM:

The video is beautiful. Mr. Spooner reminds me of people I met while volunteering against Prop 8 in California.

The second story is our worst nightmare. In my office I keep copies of our wills and durable powers of attorney, to be faxed if need be. At home, framed, is our marriage license, and one layer back our CA domestic partner registration, and behind that our city domestic partner registration -- a decade of attempts to protect our relationship. Which, if any, will work in an emergency?

#25 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2009, 11:06 AM:

Caroline @17:

Scraps and I had some bad moments during the first month of his hospitalization after the stroke (both after I'd gotten the proxy from his parents, and after we'd done the legal medical proxy; more than I posted here), when various people-in-authority did not want to give me either permission to see him, or information, and we're a het-looking couple. Of course, we're an interracial couple, so we're probably not a real couple, anyway.

Not that I'm angry or bitter.

Much.

Truth? I'm afraid to go to Florida now.

#26 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2009, 11:18 AM:

Candle @ #15 - Having checked your posting history here, I guessed at ignorant goodwill and/or an intent to "see both sides", rather than bad intent. Apology accepted.

#27 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2009, 11:41 AM:

Velma #25: Hell, I'm afraid to go to Florida now! (I'm white and straight myself, but I have family members who aren't.)

#28 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2009, 12:00 PM:

I worked at Jackson Memorial Hospital in the summer of '76. At an earlier time, my dad was a hospital administrator there. But nothing like this came up, that I can recall, in my time as a clerk on a trauma ward.

#29 ::: Geri Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2009, 01:57 PM:

Patrick, thank you for the video of Philip Spooner's statement. I read the transcript a few days ago.

My father is also 86, another WWII vet who was in the Battle of the Bulge. He and his wife raised three children, and I could all but see and hear him mirroring Philip Spooner's sentiments based on his own experiences and sensibilities.

#30 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2009, 05:54 PM:

According to oral history and research, many of the women who joined the WAC (Woman's Air Corps) during WWII were lesbians, and served despite a constant fight to keep them out.

If any of them are around, I'm sure they have something to say too.

#31 ::: Jason B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2009, 05:57 PM:

The Langbehn-Pond story makes me sick. When I was a young man I was stationed in Key West (1990-1993), which has a large gay population (at the time, second only to San Fransisco, per capita, in America (or so I was told)). I treasure those years for many reasons, but one of the most significant is that the time I spent in that environment gave me the opportunity to interact with confident, openly gay people. That didn't just teach me that gay men and lesbians are people just like me, but that perception really does matter. It improved me.

To think the people I knew then probably still live ninety miles from where this happened to Lisa Pond and her family gives me (bad) chills. My perception of Florida isn't what it was a half hour ago.

#32 ::: Glen Blankenship ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2009, 07:28 PM:

When I was hospitalized recently, I checked the fine print carefully, since PK and I frequently pass as a het married couple, even though we're not, really.

I was pleased to see, in the paper entitled "Patient's Rights and Responsibilities" that it was the stated policy of the (Catholic-run) hospital my HMO uses, that anyone who shares a residence with the patient has visitation rights unless specifically excluded by the patient - and explicitly disclaims any exceptions based on marital status, sexual orientation, consanguinity, or lack thereof. You live with 'em, you get to vist 'em. Period. No exceptions.

Cheered me right up.

#33 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2009, 11:41 PM:

Of course, we're an interracial couple, so we're probably not a real couple, anyway.

Velma, that was an aspect I hadn't thought of, because both Keith and I are white and that gives me the privilege not to consider it. Agh. I do remember, now, you mentioning that at least one person assumed Teresa must be Scraps' partner/wife, because of race.

It just makes me sick to think that someone would decree that a couple doesn't count, forbid them from being together when one is very ill, because of their apparent races, apparent genders, or apparent sexual orientations. Sadly, I'm not shocked or surprised. Just sick.

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