Taking a step toward equal rights for all, President Obama mandated last week 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.
It's a little late for Janice Langbehn and her partner Lisa Marie Pond [see stories HERE, HERE and HERE] or for Clay and Harold [HERE] and countless others, but it may make a difference from now on.
The new rule, according to administration officials will affect any hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding, a move that covers the vast majority of the nation's health-care institutions.
Currently, many hospitals will ban visitors who are not related to a patient by either blood or marriage, and gay rights activists say many do not respect same-sex couples' efforts to designate a partner, even with legal documentation, to make medical decisions for them if they are seriously ill or injured.
This latest move by Obama shows his resolve to work with, and for, the LGBT community, to seek out equal rights for our oft-discriminated community. Obama has already seen Hate Crimes legislation come to pass, and he held the first ever Gay pride Day at the White House; and there seems to be some movement on DADT and ENDA every day.
But this is a new step, and a big step. At a time when you need your loved one, your partner, your spouse, most of all, you will no longer be pushed aside and told you don't mater.
Whatever you think of it, it's equality, baby. And it's about time.