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Hospital visitation, Obama and marriage equality

The New York Times/CBS News poll that has gotten a ton of attention because it put a face on the Tea Party movement had interesting data on Americans' view of same-sex marriage. The nation isn't nearly as ready as I'd like it to be, but it's getting there.

The Times asked this question: "Which comes closest to your view? Gay couples should be allowed to legally marry OR gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not legally marry OR there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship?" When the query was first posed in a March 2004 poll, marriage was supported by 22 percent of those polled. Civil unions received more backing at 33 percent. Of course, "no legal recognition" got the most support at 40 percent.

What a difference six years make. Support for marriage jumped 17 points to 39 percent. For civil unions it dropped 9 points to 24 percent. And those favoring "no legal recognition" fell 10 points to 30 percent. That's right. More people polled in 2010 favor marriage equality than no legal recognition. But let's be clear-eyed here. Americans aren't there yet and won't be until the inexorable demographic shift the nation is undergoing pushes support over 50 percent.

The inability to marry and to accrue the benefits that come with it has real-life consequences. Janice Langbehn was kept from the hospital bedside of Lisa Pond, her partner of nearly 18 years, after Pond collapsed of a cerebral aneurysm in February 2007. Pond died hours later without seeing Langehn or their children.

This heart-breaking story didn't escape the attention of President Obama. On Thursday, he directed the Department of Health and Human Services to ban discrimination in hospital visitation at facilities that receive Medicaid or Medicare funding. The relationships of same-sex couples would be respected at a critical and emotionally draining time. In addition, the new rules would apply to all patients. So, if you're a widow or widower you could designate a friend be allowed to visit you or make medical decisions on your behalf.

"The General Accounting Office has identified 1,138 instances in federal law where marriage is important," said a gay rights activist in today's Post. "We've knocked off one of them." And as the trending poll numbers suggest, it won't be long before legal same-sex marriage takes care of the rest. Congress just has to find the courage to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act to make it happen.

By Jonathan Capehart  | April 16, 2010; 4:52 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

I'd love to see this poll broken down by demographics. Those of my generation (born in the early 80s) heavily favor same sex marriage rights. I would imagine those in their 30s would as well.

Posted by: NoVAredsox | April 16, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

I have never met anyone who was asked in real life to verify their marital status prior to any hospital visit. The occasion mentioned above was staged for the purpose of inventing a "victim", for us to sympathise with.
If homo's can "marry" who ever they please, why cannot Mormon's or Muslim's marry how ever many they can afford to support?
Why is the government allowed in their bedrooms, with no complaints from the ACLU, or the politically correct?
Why does the DNC, and it's Liberal fringe groups, only care about the rights of those considered to be deviants for all of recorded history?

Posted by: kesac | April 16, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

"The occasion mentioned above was staged for the purpose of inventing a "victim", for us to sympathise with"

********

Ummm. It DID happen. Her partner died while she and her children were forced to just sit in the waiting room. She even had advanced directives (power of attorney no less, I believe), but was told anyway that they couldn't see her because Florida was "an anti-gay state." This kind of stuff is suprising common.

PS: I think thats a pretty sad low to claim the family staged this death and maltreatment for some weird political plea, not that I think you guys have much of a working conscience to be able to sympathise anyway. If your 'morals' can't defend even this most BASIC, BAISIC form of humanity, your morals are dead or at least perverted beyond recognition. Period.

Posted by: bEEarCUB | April 16, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

"...Why does the DNC, and it's Liberal fringe groups, only care about the rights of those considered to be deviants for all of recorded history?" kesac

That is where you are wrong. This change is for everyone. If you want your Aunt Ida to be involved in your health care choice, that must be honored. If I want my boyfriend or girlfriend or my life partner (same sex or opposite sex) to be at my bedside and make choices for me, that must be honored.

Pull your head out of your 1-track crap system and pretend you live in the real world instead of Palinland for a minute.

Posted by: streff | April 16, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Be careful what you wish for as modern "marriage" is nothing more than a wealth transferal scam. Gay and lesbian persons are welcome to it as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: politbureau | April 16, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

And yet whenever the people of a state (not judges) have been given the freedom of an up/down vote on gay marriage, they've knocked it down. None even close. Polls are subject to bias; many will say what they think the pollster wants to hear.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | April 16, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

If they want to be miserable like the rest of us, let them. Who cares?

Posted by: fantasyjoker | April 16, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

fr kesac:

>...Why does the DNC, and it's Liberal fringe groups, only care about the rights of those considered to be deviants for all of recorded history?<

You really need to stop listening to the likes of "dr" laura and flush limberger. GLBTQI's are NOT "deviants". Homophobes are, however.

My WIFE and I are gay Christian women, married almost two years ago. I have to have knee replacement surgery fairly soon, and woe to a hospital admin who would try to tell me that my wife can't be with me as much as we want.

Posted by: Alex511 | April 16, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

I am amazed at the vile comments that have been made regarding the rights of a gay person to have their CHOSEN loved ones by their side in their time of need.

Included in these comments are "NO ONE ever Checked my ID", or "How do they keep you out of the room", or "Nurses, physicians etc are too busy to CARE".

Well you are wrong. I have been a witness to some of the most VILE People, usually those who are IN DENIAL that their loved one is gay, or say a PARENT who loathes that their child is gay or who loathes the partner who TURNED their sweet child gay, or any number of these types of reasons. IT happens fairly often, because in many cases PARENTS or SIBLINGS are often called before the CHOSEN LOVED ONES.

I have seen mean viscious PARENTS get court orders to keep the "DEVIANT" away from their precious child.

Some people have this need to make their GAY LOVED ONES SUFFER for their (the parents) embarrassment of having a gay child.

ANd based on the comments on many of the VILE PEOPLE who make comments on these people as if the GAY PERSON is somehow taking the rights of the hetero away, WE NEED TO BE WORRIED ABOUT JUDGEMENTAL ARSES

Posted by: racerdoc | April 16, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Gay marriage is a silly social engineering experiment. There's a reason why every society has banned it. It won't last, there are some of us who won't let ourselves be brain-washed by the fifth column of secularists and moral-relativists.

Posted by: rick50 | April 16, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Everyone I know is for gay marriage, and I'm a baby boomer.

Posted by: solsticebelle | April 16, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Homophobia is intolerance which brings no benefit. Same-sex marriage is a right which must be accessible to all LGBT people in every state of the United States. The poll regarding same-sex marriage gets better every year, as evidenced by the New York Times and CBS poll which says that 39% of people polled support same-sex marriage while 30% don't compared to 2004. Civil unions are stepping stones to same-sex marriage. It's good that President Obama issued a memo which prohibits hospitals which work with Medicare and Medicaid to not discriminate against sexual orientation, gender identity, and expand visitation rights to lesbian and gay couples.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | April 16, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

rick50: What do you mean "every society" has banned gay marriage? There's a large country on the U.S.'s northern border where gay men and lesbians marry - and it's one of a number of countries with equal marriage.

Posted by: mainer2 | April 16, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

too all,

frankly, i do NOT see what all the STUPID "howling & gnashing of teeth" is about.

when i was in the hospital (in 2002) with a broken neck (from a severe car accident) & numerous other serious/life-threatening injuries, my "sister of the heart" (i.e., DIFFERENT parents) was allowed "full access" to my room 24/7 (including NON-"visitation" hours) and Sandy was told, in front of my physician, that she would HAVE to make any necessary "medical decisions", in the event that i was ever UNABLE to make them for myself.
(with tears flowing copiously down her face, she just nodded her head "YES" & said nothing. = we never mentioned it again.)

NOBODY on the staff asked her to PROVE anything! = had she been MALE (and "a brother of the heart" - YEP i have one of those, too - his name is Richard), i seriously doubt that he would have been asked either, as MY feelings (as a patient in BAD shape) should be/WERE "controlling".

to me, as a "right-wing conservative", i cannot see, for the life of me, why it is anyone else's business but MINE.

fwiw, "even a blind hog sometimes finds an acorn", is the old saying in TX. =====> BHO, for ONCE, did something that is simple "common sense".

just my opinion.

yours, TN46

Posted by: texasnative46 | April 16, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

too all,

frankly, i do NOT see what all the STUPID "howling & gnashing of teeth" is about.

when i was in the hospital (in 2002) with a broken neck (from a severe car accident) & numerous other serious/life-threatening injuries, my "sister of the heart" (i.e., DIFFERENT parents) was allowed "full access" to my room 24/7 (including NON-"visitation" hours) and Sandy was told, in front of my physician, that she would HAVE to make any necessary "medical decisions", in the event that i was ever UNABLE to make them for myself.
(with tears flowing copiously down her face, she just nodded her head "YES" & said nothing. = we never mentioned it again.)

NOBODY on the staff asked her to PROVE anything! = had she been MALE (and "a brother of the heart" - YEP i have one of those, too - his name is Richard), i seriously doubt that he would have been asked either, as MY feelings (as a patient in BAD shape) should be/WERE "controlling".

to me, as a "right-wing conservative", i cannot see, for the life of me, why it is anyone else's business but MINE.

fwiw, "even a blind hog sometimes finds an acorn", is the old saying in TX. =====> BHO, for ONCE, did something that is simple "common sense".

just my opinion.

yours, TN46

Posted by: texasnative46 | April 16, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to believe that kesac is just trolling, but I've encountered enough people like this in real life to know that that most vehement opponents of same-sex marriage, or even the most basic legal recognitions of same-sex partnerships--as are so many on the right--are completely devoid of any empathy or compassion.

Posted by: MrDarwin | April 16, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Would someone please explain to me the difference between marriage and civil union, other than the religious aspect?

Posted by: freddie5 | April 16, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Incidentally, solsticebelle, one of my children is a baby boomer, and I am for same-sex marriage.

Posted by: freddie5 | April 16, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

MrDarwin,

PARDON ME, but REAL "rightwingers" do NOT want ANY government interference in our lives. period. end of story. = i KNOW as i AM one of those "PALEO-conservatives" that "progressives" LOVE TO HATE!
(in my experience of over 60 YEARS, the MOST INTOLERENT of people that i've met are so-called LIBERALS and/or "progressives" as they WANT government interference in state/local/individual affairs. - FACT.)

yours, TN46

Posted by: texasnative46 | April 16, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

"

I have never met anyone who was asked in real life to verify their marital status prior to any hospital visit. The occasion mentioned above was staged for the purpose of inventing a "victim", for us to sympathise with.
If homo's can "marry" who ever they please, why cannot Mormon's or Muslim's marry how ever many they can afford to support?
Why is the government allowed in their bedrooms, with no complaints from the ACLU, or the politically correct?
Why does the DNC, and it's Liberal fringe groups, only care about the rights of those considered to be deviants for all of recorded history?

Posted by: kesac"

I consider you a deviant, "kesac," and I don't give a damn about your rights. Okay?

Posted by: thrh | April 16, 2010 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Ironically, this new directive may make it HARDER to get gay marriage enacted because now gay couples cannot use the inability to visit their partner in the hospital as an argument for gay marriage.

The media is incorrectly labeling this as a gay rights directive. As you say, the directive allows a patient to assign anyone the right to visit them, which is of course the way it should be. So it has nothing to do with gay rights per se.

Finally, I think people continue to assume that demographic changes will ultimately cause "marriage equality" to become law.

Currently, the issue has been on the ballot in 31 states and the gay rights movement is a big ZERO for 31. In most cases, it is part of the state constitution which is usually not so easy to overturn. In the few states in which it is allowed, it was by order of the state supreme court and only in those states where it is extraordinarily difficult to overturn a state supreme court ruling (unlike, e.g., California) so none of these states reflect public opinion.

Barring a Supreme Court decision requiring gay marriage (highly unlikely), that means that propnonents will have to pass state consitutional amendments to get it enacted. That typically requires MORE than just majority approval.

I think gay marriage proponents have a longer road than they realize.

Posted by: drbill21 | April 16, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Such hateful comments!!

Why would anyone want to deny another person happiness? Just doesn't make logical sense.

Bigotry is ALWAYS wrong!!

Posted by: blrpalms | April 17, 2010 12:44 AM | Report abuse

This is the only thing Obama has done that I approve of. No one dying in a hospital should be deprived of seeing someone they love.... no one should ever have that kind of power thta they can deny you a visit from your loved one.....Enough of this nonsense - 2 people -- gay or straight-- who love each other are no threat to America ..we have other threats like illegals, Muslims, the Obama Administration radicals,Iran, N Korea..lots of other enemies...gays are not one of them...

Posted by: JUNGLEJIM123 | April 17, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse


"The General Accounting Office has identified 1,138 instances in federal law where marriage is important."

Will it be necessary to take each one, one at a time, to get equal treatment for gay couples?

Maybe demographics will eventually get the US to the point that a brave group of legislators (is that an oxymoron?) will just pass a sweeping gay rights bill and end the craziness.

I just love the short-hand way of saying "demographics" rather than saying all that about older anti-gay-rights people dying so that younger people who are less anti-gay will become the majority so other people can be free.

Good word "demographics."

Posted by: amelia45 | April 17, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Parents/family/friends/etc. inform medical staff that people are not "blood relatives" and they have been denied access. It happens all the time.

Posted by: rlj1 | April 17, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

I keep hearing that gays want to marry so that they can share in the "happiness" that the rest of us do. I'm sure that if they do get their wish, then they will also be granted the privilege of sharing in what the rest of us deal with if things don't work out: to share in fights over the children, fights as to who gets what property if things don't work out, and fights over alimony.

Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.

Posted by: barrysal | April 18, 2010 3:22 AM | Report abuse

I keep hearing that gays want to marry so that they can share in the "happiness" that the rest of us do. I'm sure that if they do get their wish, then they will also be granted the privilege of sharing in what the rest of us deal with if things don't work out: to share in fights over the children, fights as to who gets what property if things don't work out, and fights over alimony.

Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.

Posted by: barrysal | April 18, 2010 3:23 AM | Report abuse

rlj1,

WHERE is your DOCUMENTARY PROOF that what you said is TRUE? - OR, is what you stated simply "hearsay","gossip" or just your UNfounded opinion?
(inquiring minds want to know.)

yours, TN46

Posted by: texasnative46 | April 18, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

And yet whenever the people of a state (not judges) have been given the freedom of an up/down vote on gay marriage, they've knocked it down. None even close. Polls are subject to bias; many will say what they think the pollster wants to hear.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | April 16, 2010 8:31 PM

____________________
Nemo, this isn't true. Actually it is false. Some states have legislated marriage equality. DC is a key example. We have marriage equality as far as the district laws go. A few other stats as well.

I agree that polls have bias and people are LESS likely to say they do not support equality, but that too is a positive sign. It shows that history is on our (gay's) side, as it becomes less acceptable to express these views it becomes less likely that these votes would happen.

Posted by: vodkaisoxygen | April 18, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

vodkaisoxygen,

fwiw, DC is NOT a state (except it IS a "state of CONFUSION"!) & will NEVER be, no matter what the DIMocRATS tell stupid/naive people there.

even in DC, the PEOPLE are OVERWHELMINGLY AGAINST so-called "gay marriage". - the estimate of the DC chapter of the NAACP in Nov 09 was "gay marriage" would be VOTED DOWN by over 70% IF the PEOPLE were allowed to vote on "the issue.

face it, well over 2/3 of VOTERS are against "gay marriage", as it is NEITHER!

yours, TN46

Posted by: texasnative46 | April 18, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

"I keep hearing that gays want to marry so that they can share in the "happiness" that the rest of us do..."Posted by: barrysal | April 18, 2010 3:23 AM

With respect, I am not sure where you "keep hearing this."

I am gay. I don't want the protections of legal marriage so that I can be "happy."

My partner and I have been together for many years. We're already "happy." We've been "happy" with our relationship throughout that time.

We had a religious ceremony, for a number of reasons, but again, not in order to be "happy"--we did SHARE our "happiness" with our friends and family, but I am pretty sure they all already knew we were "happy".

Now we want to protect our most precious relationship through civil marriage. We've been to an expensive lawyer a number of times, and we've done pretty much all we can to protect our relationship legally.

The fact that so many (so many strangers, at that!) are determined to PREVENT us from protecting it legally should clue you in to just the kinds of obstacles that gay couples face all the time.

Are we aware of the pitfalls of a legally-binding marriage contract? Of course. There are no guarantees in life.

That doesn't mean that we shouldn't be afforded the same opportunities to protect what we care about that you are.

Peace,
Ricklinguist

Posted by: ricklinguist | April 19, 2010 7:06 AM | Report abuse

"Whenever the people of a state (not judges) have been given the freedom of an up/down vote on gay marriage, they've knocked it down." @ 04-16-2008 8:31PM

Actually, passage occurred within a very narrow margin of votes.

And in each of the referendums, OUTRIGHT LIES were made by the Catholic Church and National Organization for Marriage.

Posted by: nathanielbarton | April 19, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

TN46 - Normally I don't respond to demands for proof. I worked at a major hospital and you will have to take my word. HIPAA prevents disclosure of any hospital records.

Posted by: rlj1 | April 19, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Gay marriage is a silly social engineering experiment. There's a reason why every society has banned it. It won't last, there are some of us who won't let ourselves be brain-washed by the fifth column of secularists and moral-relativists.

Posted by: rick50
- - - - -
It's been approved in several modern democracies and it looks like it's going to last quite happily. Your morality is just an excuse for hatred of those you wish to marginalize, stigmatize and therefore, by your own bigotry, radicalize FOR their rights. I will be a very proud American and DAV the day I see all Americans, including the GLBTQ members, allowed to marry their loved ones.

Posted by: ColleenHarper | April 19, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

rlj1,

actually i grew up in a city/county hospital (my aunt was the hospital director), spent 4 months in one as a patient (after a severe wreck)and spent 7 months & 5 days at Baylor University Oncology Center (with my late wife) & i've never even heard of even ONE such incident.

in 40+ YEARS i would think that it was a "problem" that i would have heard of many/some/a few/ONE but i have NOT.===> therefore, i suspect strongly that there is NO such "problem", as every healthcare facility that i've ever been inside of did what the PATIENTS wanted done about "visitation".
(fyi, i had the SAD/unpleasant task of removing a man's distraught MOTHER from his patient room, 2 hours before he passed away, because he said, "I don't want her anywhere near me".)

yours, TN46

Posted by: texasnative46 | April 19, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

A timely article in the New York Times, citing several incidents involving gay people and hospital visitation:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/19/for-same-sex-couples-equality-in-the-hospital/?8dpc

The sad truth is that how gay couples are treated largely depends on individual hospital staff. And given the lack of understanding (and sometimes, hostility) concerning gay people in our society, all too often, gay people find themselves at the mercy of others:


"In Bakersfield, Calif., for instance, in a state where domestic partnership is recognized, only the biological mother was allowed to stay at the bedside of a child running a high fever. Her partner — the child’s adoptive mother — was told to stay in the waiting room, even as fathers and mothers were allowed to visit their children together."

Posted by: ricklinguist | April 19, 2010 11:10 PM | Report abuse

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