A Missouri man was arrested because he stayed by his partner's bedside in the hospital. Roger Gorley was keeping vigil by the bedside of his partner Allen, when a member of Allen's family asked him to leave. The hospital refused to recognize Roger as a part of Allen's family, put him handcuffs, and escorted him out of the building. Roger is now unable to see his partner at all, because of a restraining order following his arrest.
This all happened, despite the fact that Roger and Allen have a civil union and power of attorney for one another. Roger stated that the nurse refused to confirm the power of attorney, which states that the two can made medical decisions for one another.
This is also despite a 2010 memo from the Obama administration, directing hospitals that receive Medicare or Medicaid to allow visitation rights for gay and lesbian partners. President Obama signed the memo because of the story of Janice Langbehn, who was not allowed to visit her partner, Lisa Pond, who died of a brain aneurism. After hearing of Janice’s story, President Obama went on to revise laws for federally funded hospitals around visitation for lesbian and gay couples. She was later presented with the President Citizens Medal.
"What this hospital did to Roger and Allen was repugnant," said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz. "President Obama has made it clear that no other couple should ever have to experience this, but there are clearly still some who work in the healthcare industry who value their own homophobia over the dignity of their patients and their families."
Research Medical Center, where Allen was treated, states that it doesn't not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. However, in their statement, they also made it clear that they do not consider Roger a part of Allen's family.
“We believe involving the family is an important part of the patient care process,” the hospital said in a statement. “And, the patient`s needs are always our first priority. When anyone becomes disruptive to providing the necessary patient care, we involve our security team to help calm the situation and to protect our patients and staff. If the situation continues to escalate, we have no choice but to request police assistance.”
As the country has been in an ongoing shift on marriage equality, examples like that of Roger and Allen remind us why marriage equality is so important. It is so that couples can care for one another in their time of need. Clearly, in this case, civil unions, and all the accompanying legal safeguards put in place were not enough to keep this couple together.
A Change.org petition has already garnered neraly 4,000 signatures. Add your name to tell the hospital to apologize to Roger and Allen and address the anti-gay behavior of the staff.
GLAAD will continue to lift up stories like that of Roger and Allen and other couples who are harmed by not having the protections of marriage. We call on the United States to recognize the freedom to marry for all couples.