President Obama mandated Thursday that nearly all hospitals extend visitation rights to the partners of gay men and lesbians and respect patients' choices about who may make critical health-care decisions for them, perhaps the most significant step so far in his efforts to expand the rights of gay Americans.Um...wow. Okay. Granted, I'd prefer that he just issue an executive order extending marriage rights to same-sex couples, but federally-mandated visitation rights is a very, very important interim mandate.
The president directed the Department of Health and Human Services to prohibit discrimination in hospital visitation in a memo that was e-mailed to reporters Thursday night while he was at a fundraiser in Miami.
Administration officials and gay activists, who have been quietly working together on the issue, said the new rule will affect any hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding, a move that covers the vast majority of the nation's health-care institutions. Obama's order will start a rule-making process at HHS that could take several months, officials said.
My one concern is whether this is going to cause the huge network of Catholic hospitals (or any of the smaller religiously-affiliated hospitals, many of whom already have ridiculous policies like denying emergency contraception to rape survivors) to stop accepting Medicare/Medicaid. Because that, of course, would be bad for everyone, including same-sex couples, dependent on Medicare/Medicaid in small communities where such a hospital is the only option.
It seems the administration may have considered that possibility and thus also included this provision: "[The new rules] also will affect widows and widowers who have been unable to receive visits from a friend or companion. And they would allow members of some religious orders to designate someone other than a family member to make medical decisions." ("Some religious orders"? No clue.)
Naturally, it wouldn't be an article in the mainstream media without a sop to "the other side," so the fuckos from the the Family Research Council were called in to comment.
But opponents of same-sex marriage have called the visitation issue a red herring, arguing that advocates want to provide special rights for gays that other Americans do not have.AAARRRGGGHHH!!! YOU DO NOT GET TO ARGUE "SPECIAL RIGHTS" WHEN THIS IS A SECOND-BEST OPTION GIVEN TO PEOPLE DENIED BASIC RIGHTS!!! JUST SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!!!
Ahem. Sorry. You were saying, asshole...
"In its current political context, President Obama's memorandum clearly constitutes pandering to a radical special interest group," said Peter S. Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council. He said that his organization does not object to gays giving their partners power of attorney but that it questions Obama's motives.Radical gay blah blah. Undermines sanctity of yadda yadda. Snooze. These people don't need "senior fellows." They just need a tape recorder with their tired-ass comments from 1982.
"The memorandum undermines the definition of marriage," he said.