President Obama on Thursday signed a memorandum requiring hospitals to allow gays and lesbians to have non-family visitors and to grant their partners medical power of attorney.This is not something any Republican president would have done.
The president ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to prohibit discrimination in hospital visitation. The memo is scheduled to be made public Friday morning, according to an administration official and another source familiar with the White House decision.
The memorandum from Obama to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, made public late Thursday night, orders new rules that would ensure hospitals "respect the rights of patients to designate visitors."
Obama says the new rules should require that hospitals not deny visitation privileges on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.Slowly is correct. But then again, the history of equality is nothing in not a long, sweeping arc of slow changes that add up to a policy, that then becomes a precedent, that then becomes a new social more.
"Every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay," Obama says in the memo.
Affected, he said, are "gay and lesbian American who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives -- unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated."
Obama's actions are the latest attempt by his administration to slowly advance the agenda of a constituency that strongly supported his presidential campaign.
It is however a long overdue change. Odds are very good that like myself, you know someone this order will affect personally. Good for Obama. This one he gets full marks for.