Janice Langbehn will Receive Presidential Citizens Medal

We at GLAAD are extremely proud that our dear friend Janice Langbehn has been picked as one of this year's recipients of the Presidential Citizens Medal, recognized as the nation's second-highest civilian award. The Presidential Citizens Medal honors Americans who have “performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.” From the White House official statement:

Janice Langbehn, Lacey, WA

While on vacation with her family in February 2007, Janice Langbehn’s partner, Lisa Pond, suddenly fell ill and was rushed to the hospital.  Langbehn was refused access to her partner, who had experienced a brain aneurysm and later died alone.  With the help of Lambda Legal and GLAAD, she filed a federal lawsuit and worked to get her story out to the nation. Janice's story received attention from President Obama, who personally apologized to her for the way she and her family was treated.  He went on to revise hospital visitation rights for gay and lesbian couples, which went into effect this past January for any hospitals receiving federal Medicare or Medicaid funds. Langbehn receives the Citizens Medal for her efforts to ensure all Americans are treated equally.

We echo the sentiment of the Administration that she is well-deserving of recognition for her tireless advocacy. We have been honored to work closely with Janice over the last several years, and GLAAD was one of the parties that nominated her for this award.  “This year’s recipients of the Citizens Medal come from different backgrounds, but they share a commitment to a cause greater than themselves,” said President Obama.  “They exemplify the best of what it means to be an American, and I am honored to be able to offer them a small token of our appreciation.”

"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."

Janice will receive the award next Thurday, which is Spirit Day, and will be wearing purple to the ceremony in honor of the occasion. Watch her moving speech from the 22nd annual GLAAD Media Awards here: