Thursday, December 18, 2008

How bloody generous!

The Phoenix, AZ, city council has voted to establish a domestic partners registry for gay couples. For a fee of $50 a couple can register as domestic partners. The only thing the registry does is give gay couples the right to visit each other in hospital. That is the entire ball of wax --- hospital visitation rights.

Guess what? The Christian Right is against even that. The Right-wing theocratic Alliance Defense Fund testified against the registry saying it was "unnecessary". They say it is just false that gay couples have been prevented hospital visitation rights. Please remember that during the Prop 8 campaign the fundamentalist Right said they didn't want to deny gay couples hospital visitation rights -- they only wanted to strip them of their right to marry. In reality they want to strip gay people of whatever rights they can. And many of them are honest enough to admit they want to make being gay a crime. Some of the more "literalist" Bible-beaters say they want homosexuals put to death.

While the "loving Christians" from the Alliance Defense Fund are spewing their claim that no gay couples are denied hospital visitation rights there is a legal case going on in Florida. Here are the details.

Janice Langbehn and Lisa Marie Pond were celebrating 18 years of a loving relationship. The couple, with three of their four children, were going on a cruise together, one that was set up especially for families like themselves.

Pond, 39, suffered a massive stroke on board, before the ship left port. She was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital. For 8 hours the hospital refused to allow Langbehn to see her partner. They said she wasn't family. When Pond's sister arrived she was allowed immediate access but neither Langbehn, or the couple's children, were accepted as legitimate family by the hospital.

The Christian Right advocate, who testified in Phoenix, claimed that all gay couples have to do is pay an attorney to draft legal agreements for them. But Pond and Langbehn had crafted precisely such an agreement and a copy of it was faxed to the hospital. The hospital chose to ignore it.

It was only when the hospital decided that Pond was about to die, and a priest had been called for last rites, that Langbehn was allowed to see her partner, just minutes before Pond's death. The priest was the one who arranged for Langbehn to finally see her partner, not the hospital. Langbehn said she just wanted to be with Pond, to hold her hand and try to comfort her. But, hey, that's just one of those whinny faggots wanting to destroy marriage.

The hospital even refused to allow Langbehn to give them her partner's medical history. She was told by hospital staff that Florida was an antigay state and that she could "expect to receive no information or acknowledgment as family."

Normally a spouse is allowed to be with their dying partner. But under Florida's antigay, "pro-marriage" laws the couple were not considered spouses. So Pond was allowed to suffer for 8 hours without the love of her life being there to comfort her. And clearly there was no medical reason for this since Pond's sister was granted immediate access. Even the doctors admitted there was no medical reason to exclude Langbehn. But the woman Pond considered her life partner was kept out. Groups like the Alliance Defense Fund assure us that hospital visitation rights are simply not an issue -- they aren't, for them.

To make matters more absurd, the State of Florida and the Dade County Medical Examiner both refused to give Langbehn copies of the death certificate -- something she required in regards to the life insurance policies that the couples owned.

When Patrick Atkins went to Wabash College in 1978 he met his life partner, Brett Conrad. Patrick's mother, a fanatical Catholic, was horrified. But not horrified enough to refuse Patrick's money to help her start up a bakery, and not horrified enough to prevent him from taking management of the company and making her wealthy. Brett and Patrick shared everything, including their bank accounts. But on a business trip to Atlanta Patrick had a stroke. And when his mother, Jeanne Atkins, arrived she told the hospital that Brett is to be forbidden any contact with her son.

Patrick is incapacitated and unable to express his wishes adequately. And the courts have ruled that Jeanne Atkins is his closest relative, that Brett Conrad is nobody to Patrick, at least as far as the law is concerned. Not only did the mother deny Brett hospital visitation rights but she took Patrick and moved him to her home where Brett is forbidden to visit his partner. In addition she confiscated Patrick's bank accounts and the home the two men shared. The court ruled that some of the property belonged to Brett but he had to move out of the house and sell it. The assets were turned over the mother to use as she wished.

A horrified judge said: " Brett and Patrick have spent 25 years together as life partners -- longer than Patrick lived at home with his parents -- and their future life together has been destroyed by Patrick’s tragic medical condition and by the Atkinses’ unwillingness to accept their son's lifestyle.” A doctor treating Patrick said that contact with Brett were positive for his patient. Jeanne Atkins didn't care, she had her God to worry about instead. The court found that Jeanne Atkins had told people that she would rather her son never recover from the stroke than get well and return to his "sinful" relationship. In other words she prefers a vegetable to a gay son. And the judge, horrifiied as he was by Jeanne Atkins' callous, uncaring treatment of her own son had to rule in her favor because the law says gay couples are not partners in any legal sense of the word. The bigotry of a hateful mother has more legal standing than the loving relationship of 25 years.

Below is a short video containing the story of Charlene Strong and her partner of nine years, Kate Fleming. Kate was was working in a basement recording studio when a flash flood hit their home. Charlene tried to rescue her but was unable to do so. When the fire department arrived they were unable to open the door against the water inside the basement. They cut a hole in the ceiling of the basement to rescue Kate who was then rushed to hospital. Charlene was denied access until a "relative's" permission could be secured to allow her to be with her partner. She was a legal nobody. But the Christian Right says that isn't a problem.

Of course, all this is a lie. The Christians say these cases don't exist. There is simply no need to allow gay couples hospital visitation rights because no one is denying them, well except in the cases mentioned here, and numerous others not mentioned here. Of course, such cases are well known and I suspect these Christian groups know these cases exist as well. But they are lying for the Lord so it doesn't matter. Apparently one may act as immorally as one wishes in order to preserve morality.

Photo: The photo is of the Langbehn-Pond family as they are boarding the cruise ship.