In 2005 the Texas Freedom Network opposed passage of a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions in Texas. We pointed out that same-sex marriage was already illegal in the state. The measure was simply another divisive, mean-spirited “culture war” distraction from issues far more important to working families, like good neighborhood schools and affordable health care. Gov. Rick Perry and his supporters on the religious right called the amendment necessary to “protect” marriage. Actually, the measure was more important for mobilizing social conservatives in advance of the 2006 state elections.
In any case, the amendment passed that fall. So we found this story in Friday’s Miami Herald to be a terribly sad reminder that the religious right’s “culture wars” have real casualties.
As her partner of 17 years slipped into a coma, Janice Langbehn pleaded with doctors and anyone who would listen to let her into the woman’s hospital room.
Eight anguishing hours passed before Langbehn would be allowed into Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center. By then, she could only say her final farewell as a priest performed the last rites on 39-year-old Lisa Marie Pond.
Jackson staffers advised Langbehn that she could not see Pond earlier because the hospital’s visitation policy in cases of emergency was limited to immediate family and spouses — not partners. In Florida, same-sex marriages or partnerships are not recognized. On Friday, two years after her partner’s death, Langbehn and her attorneys were in federal court, claiming emotional distress and negligence in a suit they filed last June.
Jackson attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the case on grounds that the hospital has no obligation to allow patients’ visitors.
Pond’s medical problems began in February 2007 when she, Langbehn and their three adopted children were aboard a cruise ship docked in Miami. The Washington state couple and their children were on vacation.
Pond suddenly collapsed from a heart attack and was rushed to the trauma center.
Though Langbehn had documents declaring her Pond’s legal guardian and giving her the medical ”power of attorney,” Jackson officials refused to recognize her or the kids as family.
Langbehn, who still lives in Washington, was not available for comment Friday, but in a 2007 interview with The Miami Herald she said, “Any family should have the right to hold their loved one’s hand in the last moments of life, and we were denied that.”