GLAAD Speaks Out About Civil Unions, DOMA, and the Missouri Couple Denied Hospital Visitation

Yesterday, news broke that Roger Gorley was arrested while trying to remain at the bedside of his partner, Allen, in the Kansas City, Missouri area. While many details of the situation remain unclear, their story calls much-needed attention to the unequal treatment of gay and lesbian couples, even when they have put legal safeguards in place.

"The Supreme Court just heard arguments about how DOMA hurts gay and lesbian couples, and Roger and Allen are demonstrating how much harm comes from this discriminatory law," said Wilson Cruz, National Spokesperson for GLAAD. "Civil unions were not good enough for Roger and Allen. A power of attorney didn't protect them. Nothing short of full marriage equality will fully and effectively protect couples from attacks like what happened to Roger and Allen."

ThinkProgress synthesized many of the accounts, stories, and statements as they have been developing. Allen's daughter has given her account of what has taken place. The clear image that is emerging is that Roger and Allen were treated differently because they were a gay couple.

The couple had power of attorney forms for one another, in order to make medical decisions for one another. They had also obtained a civil union. And yet, Roger and Allen were discriminated against by Allen's family, the hospital, and the police. This could not have happened to a husband and wife, and their legal safeguards did not help when they were needed most. The fact of the matter is that Roger and Allen were discriminated against because they were a gay couple. 

The story of Roger and Allen comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court hear legal challenges to the discriminatory 'Defense of Marriage Act' (DOMA) which denies gay and lesbian couples rights and protections under the law. GLAAD was on the ground before the Supreme Court, calling for the freedom to marry for all couples. A ruling is expected in July.

Some lawmakers and leaders have suggested civil unions as an acceptable 'compromise' to granting full marriage equality. Anti-marriage equality lawmakers in Minnesota have proposed civil unions as a way to avoid granting the freedom to marry to all couples. The reality is that a civil union also did not protect this couple from discrimination. The reality is that there is nothing that will provide all the protections of marriage except for marriage. 

GLAAD will follow the story of Roger and Allen, as well as continue to show real examples of the harm that DOMA and marriage inequality does to loving and committed couples.