Y’all know I like to keep it light. There are very few serious issues that I allow myself to ponder and obsess over, but this is one of them. This story made me cry and makes me scared and mad and ready to pinch someone’s head off.
Janice Langbehn and Lisa Pond were a couple for 18 years, the parents of three adopted children, and foster parents to many others. After months of looking forward to a family vacation on the Rosie O’Donnell Family Cruise, tragedy struck. Their story, as taken from a lawsuit filed on behalf of the family by the Lambda Legal Fund, follows:
“Just as Janice Langbehn and Lisa Pond were about to depart from Miami on a family cruise with their three children, Pond suddenly collapsed. From the moment Langbehn and the children arrived at Jackson Memorial Hospital, they encountered prejudice and apathy.
The hospital refused to accept information from Langbehn regarding Pond’s medical history, informing her that she was in an anti-gay city and state and that she could expect to receive no information or acknowledgment as family. A doctor finally spoke with Langbehn, telling her that there was no chance of recovery.
Despite the doctor’s acknowledgment that no medical reason existed to prevent visitation, neither Langbehn nor her children were allowed to see Pond until nearly eight hours after their arrival. Soon after Pond’s death, Langbehn attempted to obtain her death certificate in order to get life insurance and Social Security benefits for her children. She was denied both by the state of Florida and the Dade County Medical Examiner. The Lambda Legal Fund filed a lawsuit against Jackson Memorial Hospital, on behalf of Janice Langbehn and her three children.
Because they are prohibited from marrying, gay and lesbian partners too often have to argue their right to hospital visits with ill loved ones. National standards for hospital accreditation allow visitation to family members; people not legally related are considered family members if they play a significant role in the patient’s life. This case illustrates the need for hospitals to recognize the legitimacy of same-sex relationships so that loved ones are not kept apart at a time when they most need each other. Furthermore, hospitals are fully responsible for adhering to national standards for accreditation and should be held liable if those standards are not met.
Lambda Legal has published a life planning tool-kit, a portion of which is designed to help same-sex partners protect themselves in a hospital setting by preparing legal documents in advance.”
Now, y’all, seriously, what the hell? This very scenario plays out every single day somewhere in America. This happened to a couple I know … except that the mother of the sick woman kept her partner of five years from seeing her because she did not approve of her daughter’s “lifestyle.” As her daughter’s next-of-kin, the mother had the right to make all her health care and financial decisions. It was a nightmare.
This could have easily been avoided if the couple had completed medical power-of-attorney documents insuring that their wishes would be carried out by a person of their choice. (And, you know, that is a good idea for everyone, gay or straight, married or single.)
For more about the Langbehn-Pond family, please see their blog (which pre-dates Lisa’s death).
Anyway, I say we get Kadinsky to take these hospital workers and toss them off the mountain.
Please comment below with your own words of righteous indignation … and prepare yourself for a curse-filled rant from our beloved Skinny Bone Jones.
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