New York, NY, October 12, 2011 – The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, today congratulated 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal recipient Janice Langbehn, who in 2007 was refused access to her dying partner by a Miami hospital staff because of her sexual orientation. After hearing Janice’s story, President Obama revised hospital visitation regulations to include protections for same-sex couples.
"It breaks my heart to even imagine how it must feel to watch the person you love most in this world slip away without having a chance to say goodbye," said Mike Thompson, Acting President of GLAAD. "Janice's bravery in the face of tragedy and her courage to share her story in order to make a lasting difference for all of us is a true inspiration. We offer her our most enthusiastic congratulations and gratitude to this advocate who has helped make our nation a safer place for everyone."
In 2009, GLAAD worked with Janice to bring her story to The New York Times and several other national news outlets. The resulting Times article, titled “Kept from a Dying Partner’s Bedside,” garnered significant national attention. It’s that same article that caught the eye of President Barack Obama, who later called Janice to personally apologize for the way she and her family was treated.
“None of this would have been possible without GLAAD,” Langbehn told a crowd at the 2011 GLAAD Media Awards. “Without GLAAD I would not have received the media attention and training that I so needed while in deep grief. Without GLAAD, our family and Lisa’s legacy would have been a one-time article in my local paper, instead of creating national change so all LGBT individuals will not die alone while their partner and children are behind locked doors.”
The Citizens Medal was established in 1969 to recognize American citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens. Janice will accept the award on Thurday, October 20, which also happens to be Spirit Day -- a day on which millions of Americans will wear purple in support of LGBT youth. Janice has committed to wearing purple at the awards ceremony. For more information about Spirit Day, visit glaad.org/spiritday.