By Kathleen Gilbert
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 16, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – President Obama has encouraged nearly all U.S. hopsitals to provide for visitation rights to gay and lesbian partners, in a memorandum to the Department of Health and Human Services published online Thursday. Critics say the memorandum, which does not actually create any new rights or benefits, is a “red herring” in the same-sex “marriage” debate.
The Obama administration and gay rights activists have been working together quietly on the issue, resulting in a document instructing that hospitals that receives Medicare or Medicaid funds “may not deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.”
While encouraging the formulation of new regulations to “ensure that hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid respect the rights of patients to designate visitors” and that such visitors ” should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy.”
Hospitals sometimes bar visitors who are not related to an incapacitated patient by blood or marriage, for medical and privacy reasons; accordingly, the memo concedes that “The rulemaking should take into account the need for hospitals to restrict visitation in medically appropriate circumstances as well as the clinical decisions that medical professionals make about a patient’s care or treatment.”
According to administration officials cited by the Washington Post, the rule-making process at the Health and Human Services Department may take several months to complete.
Gay rights leader Richard Socarides admitted that the memorandum on its own did not grant any new rights, but did “draw attention to the very real and tragic situations many gays and lesbians face when a partner is hospitalized,” reports the New York Times. David Smith, vice president of policy for the Human Rights Campaign, nonetheless told the NYT Thursday that the memo is “a huge deal” and “an enormous step” for the acceptance of homoseuxals.
The memorandum is intended to “help ensure that patients will be able to face difficult times in hospitals with compassion, dignity and respect,” a White House spokesman, Shin Inouye, said Thursday night. “By taking these steps, we can better protect the interests and needs of patients that are gay or lesbian, widows and widowers with no children, members of religious orders, or others for whom their loved ones are not always immediate relatives. Because all Americans should be able to have loved ones there for them in their time of need.”
The memorandum comes as the latest in a long of gestures by President Obama to please the homosexual lobby on various fronts. While homosexualists have loudly complained that the president has not done enough for their cause, including moving too slow to overturn the military’s policy banning open homosexuals, Obama has signaled cooperation in somewhat subtler ways. These include several homosexual appointments, such as homosexual youth leader Kevin Jennings as Safe Schools Czar and open lesbian Chai Feldblum at the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, as well as other changes such as granting benefits to homosexual partners of federal employees, mentioning homosexual parents in the National Family Day proclamation, and celebrating the Stonewall Riots anniversary at the White House. https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/jun/09061113.html
Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council (FRC), said in a statement emailed to LifeSiteNews.com that the hospital visitation issue is “a complete red herring.”
While noting that FRC has “no objection to any individuals conferring a health care proxy or power of attorney on whomever they wish,” Sprigg said, “this memorandum is a solution in search of a problem.”
“In its current political context,” he concluded, “President Obama’s memorandum clearly constitutes pandering to a radical special interest group; undermining the definition of marriage; and furthering a big-government federal takeover of even the smallest details of the nation’s health care system.”
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