Still more on the governor of Maryland’s recent veto of a bill that would have given same-sex couples some of the rights that married couples enjoy. In particular, this quote from Ehrlich jumped out at me.
In his veto message, Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, said that although he was “sympathetic to the needs of mutually dependent couples,” he objected to the bill because it would have created a new legal category of “life partners” with some of the same rights as married couples.
“Instead of addressing the mechanics of expediting health care decisions,” Mr. Ehrlich said, the bill “could lead to the erosion of the sanctity of traditional marriage as already codified in Maryland law.”
Not only is he using the language of the religious right, but he’s not offering any alternatives that would address “the mechanics of expiditing health care decisions.” If the governor or his party are remotely “sympathetic to the needs of mutually dependent couples” they could show it by offering alternatives to the bill presented to the governor, alternatives that would still give my husband and I the right to see each other in the hospital, to make medical decisions for each other, etc.
Since we’re living in Montgomery County, there may already be some protections we do have. According to one commenter on Kos, where I posted my previous entry on the subject to my diary…
The county’s protections are entrenched by time and already afford most of what the state law covers.
I’ll have to do some research to see just what the county’s protections are.
Of course, the hubby and I both have medical powers of attorney each giving the other the authority to make medical decisions, etc. But, at least in some cases, those documents are not honored. Case in point, what happened to Bill Flanigan and his partner.
In October 2000, Bill Flanigan’s longtime partner, Robert Daniel, was admitted to the University of Maryland Medical System’s Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. He was suffering complications from AIDS. The men, who resided in California, were on their way to visit Flanigan’s sister when Daniel became seriously ill.
When Flanigan asked to see his partner and confer with his doctors, the hospital staff allegedly told him that only family members were allowed to do so, and he was not what they considered family, according to Flanigan.
In California, the two men were signed up with that state’s domestic partnership registry. Flanigan also had durable power of attorney that gave him authority to express Daniel’s wishes for medical treatment, including Daniel’s request not to have any life-sustaining procedures performed.
But neither of these facts allegedly made any difference.
Flanigan was finally allowed to see Daniel once Daniel’s mother and other family members arrived, he says. By then, Daniel had a breathing tube inserted, which contravened his wish to not have any life-sustaining procedures, Flanigan charges. His eyes were also taped closed, he says.
Daniel died without having a chance to say goodbye to his partner.
There’s more about the case here.
See, when you’re gay, you can be fooled into thinking you’re a citizen until a crisis happens. Then you find out that where a heterosexual spouse would get waved into the hospital room without question, you have to have an arsenal of documents.
Once gay couples complete advance directives, it’s critical that they file the forms with their primary doctors and nearby hospitals, as well as keep copies with them when they travel so that the information is available when necessary, said Jack Senterfitt, an attorney in the Atlanta office of Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund.
“A lot times when problems come up it is during an emergency where someone rushes to the hospital and may not have copies of the documents with them,” Senterfitt said. “It’s not only important to have them enacted, it’s important to have them with you when you need them.”
But even when you have the documents, there is no guarantee a hospital will follow your directives.
There is no guarantee for gay couples that a hospital will follow their directives, even if they have signed, notarized copies with them. Again, just check out the case of Bill Flanigan and Robert Daniel.
If a bible-thumper happens to be in charge of the nurses’ desk that day, you might be S.O.L. Whether you get to be by your partner’s side may hinge on who controls your access, and just what mood they’re in that day.
So, have your papers with you, for all the good they’ll do, because you’re not really a citizen. At least not comparable to your heterosexual counterparts.