Hospital Visitation: Another Empty Gesture from Obama?

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Sorry folks, I’m walking the hard line. I’m not getting excited. I’m not impressed.

Late Thursday, we saw a memo from President Obama mandating that hospitals do better by their patients and their families.

Yeah, this is an important issue. It’s incredibly distressing when partners can’t get in to see their loved ones in emergency situations. It’s a real problem that affects real people everyday, and it’s a problem that needs fixed.

This memo doesn’t fix it.

Everyone else seems more optimistic than I am… so before you read on, read the full memo on Towleroad, Pam’s House Blend, or AMERICAblog Gay.

My first complaint: The mandate still says visitors need to have “legally valid advance directives.” So… not having a marriage certificate still seems to be a problem.

Second, the memo itself changes nothing:

Provide additional recommendations to me, within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, on actions the Department of Health and Human Services can take to address hospital visitation, medical decisionmaking, or other health care issues that affect LGBT patients and their families. This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

Here’s a recommendation, Mr. President: Repeal DOMA.

As far as I’m concerned, this is an empty gesture to remind us that Obama’s got our back. He can’t fully commit to repealing DADT and he’s not really going out of his way to support ENDA, but hey, he wrote a memo addressing just one of the 1,138 federal benefits of marriage.

It’s just a memo. It addressed a symptom, not a real problem. It doesn’t move us forward. It’s just a reminder of the inequality we already have and the progress we’re not making.

This is an important issue to a lot of people. Surely, many have been incredibly affected by Obama’s memo because they know the pain of being denied hospital visitation. I’m taking a hard line because I don’t appreciate my friends’ emotions being played with.

Mr. President, either commit to full equality now or admit that it’s not a priority. Stop trying to throw us a bone every time we get frustrated with your lack of advocacy on our behalf.

I’m not going to tolerate another 40 years of pandering without real measurable progress.


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