If we try to wring positives out of a terrible situation, I'm glad to see that two recent high-profile cases – one in Washington and the other in Florida – are bringing public attention to the problems of visitation for gay and lesbian partners during medical emergencies. I'm tempted to describe the rules governing these situations as barbaric, but I'll go with a nice, emotionless adjective instead: pointless. The practice advances no legitimate medical, social, or legal interest whatsoever.

I'd like to think that no matter how much one hates The Fags that, in a simple nod toward human decency, he or she could accept the rationale that if persons A and B spend 20 years in a relationship we might allow A to visit a hospital room for the last few hours of B's life. Far be it from me or anyone else to expect extreme social conservatives to have any class, but it would be great to think that they can treat their "enemies" with a modicum of respect. It does not seem hard, in my opinion, to disagree with someone vehemently about an issue, perhaps even hating one another, and still act like humans. If I'm in a room with Michelle Malkin and she collapses from a heart attack, I'm going to call an ambulance. If James Dobson's wife is dying, I'm not going to seek out a bureaucratic way to keep him out of her hospital room. These actions don't indicate friendship or kindness. It's merely the bare minimum recognition of what separates humans from hyenas.

The baffling thing about the case in Florida is that the people in question did everything "right." They had living wills, they had written Power of Attorney, and they had explicit advance directives. The hospital's half-assed justifications refer to "the amount of visitation allowed in a trauma emergency room should be decided by the surgeons and nurses treating the patients.” Would having one more person in the room have made any difference, medically or practically, in treating this patient? (note: she was alone in the room and barely conscious for about 12 hours) And if allowing a family member to see the soon-to-be departed conflicts with legitimate medical concerns, how do we explain the curious lack of news stories about people who are Opposite Married (my new favorite euphemism) having the same experience? Well, OK, it can happen if you're a black male but overall there is hardly an epidemic of "traditional" families suffering the same treatment.

In summary, this is a rule selectively applied which serves absolutely no purpose. Leave Teh Gayness out of it for a minute. If doctors are not actively treating the patient, what harm can come from having a visitor, be it a spouse, sibling, child, paperboy, or stranger? There are inherent pitfalls in policies that seek to limit something to "immediate" or "real" family. What if a child is raised by his aunt and uncle? Are they "real" enough to get the rights afforded biological parents? What if an adult has no immediate family and instead relies on a close network of friends for support throughout a long, terminal illness? Do we tell her "Sorry, you don't have a family, so no visitors"? The law appears ill-equipped to answer such questions. But it does know that it don't like the gays.

In wars, people spend all day trying to kill each another but still feed captured prisoners, provide medical treatment for enemy wounded, and bury one another's dead. It shouldn't be much to ask Americans, even Americans who despise one another and think that Fags are Goin' ta Hell, to recognize some very basic, very minimal rules. Very little about the homophobic segment of the population shocks me, but you would have to color me legitimately shocked, maybe even appalled, to discover that they derive any benefit or pleasure from the idea that people who love one another and spend their lives together – even in a manner of which one does not approve – are kept apart in the last hours of someone's life.

21 thoughts on “MEANS TO NO END”

  • These things shouldn't happen, but there are probably a lot more unreported instances. There have probably been many gay couples that were denied seeing their lovers, especially in less progressive times in this country in situations similiar to this.

  • You can't expect fanatics to listen to reason. They have been taught intolerance and hate by their religious leaders and reinforced by their brethern.

  • And yet it's not just "anti-gay fanatics"; so much of what we all do is motivated by anger, hostility, frustration etc. etc., and serves no purpose other than making us all poorer and angrier in an endless loop. Hospitals are (still) messy places – how many have seen George C. Scott using the hospital to kill people in his great movie? Some of this looks very like the classic rules-bound reaction of busy people who don't feel any compelling reason to go out of their way to be nice. It would be great if we all were good, thoughful, caring people to each other, but every day I see that's asking more than most of us are willing to give. I can't make anybody else a better person; all I can do is try to be better myself and hope it rubs off in small ways.

  • MarilynJean says:

    Great topic. I work with LGBT policy here in Ohio. It goes without saying that we're in hostile territory. The personal stories that gay families have shared with me are enough to make anyone cry. Individuals whose partners have died alone because of these stupid, archaic visitation policies have to not only grieve, but address injustice as well.

    It's just one more way to hate another person. You are right to expect some sort of respect for something as universal as death, but if anti-gay bigots can't understand love, they certainly can't grasp the need for comfort during your last hours.

  • Seriously.

    I have nothing to add to this post other than bitterness and sadness. WTF is wrong with people?! You'd think a good modern translation of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" might be "Hey, don't be a dick, man," and yet… so many people will INSIST on being TOTAL DICKS.

    It makes me despair. And I work with high school students!! I have a very high tolerance for despair!!!

  • Christian morality is the ostensible driver here for conservatives and I think this is an example of why religious Alt-Cons like Rod Dreher are a-feared of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism and what it means for faith and motivation. When you loves you some religious authority like Dreher does, you can't abide divorcing morality from authority, mutual obligations, or sacrifice. And it this case for good reason.

    As Dreher tells it, MTD doesn't require followers to confront uncomfortable social justice issues in the same manner as the civil rights era. Dreher wants Christians to either agree with him on same-sex marriage or take to the streets to get it legalized. The danger, he says, is in a church that is "too feeble to stand up prophetically to the broader culture."

  • Of course, this is why Gay Marriage is a big deal. Like it or not, Holy Matrimony is a legal construct that gives gay couples the protection they need against homophobia disguised as "protocol". To pretend otherwise isn't just delusional; it's dangerous.

  • I read this, and I remember David Cross's routine about the fact that some racists are *so* racist that they won't allow blacks to be buried in the same graveyard as whites. Once you accept that people are capable of that degree of it-would-be-hilarious-if-it-weren't-so-scary lunacy, you realize that all other forms of bigotry–especially ones that, like homophobia, are still frighteningly socially acceptable–can and will be carried out to such extremes. The Far Right are, in their sad way, to be commended for at least having the honesty to put their evil right-up-front–Gays Are Eeeeeeeevil–while 'mainstream America' (which, as Ed has pointed out, is still very very conservative indeed on social issues) can't bring itself to admit that it really does feel the same. Or to put it another way: most people didn't care about Fred Phelps until he started protesting at the funerals of *straight* people.

  • Two trivial points.

    First – Glad to see your paragraph 2 error (*The* Fags) corrected in paragraph 4 (*Teh* Gayness, though I still think it should be in CAPS.)

    Second – Nothing separates the ReichFluegel from hyenas.

  • Things like this are why it's so funny to see far-right wingnuts go nuts over Reverend Wright (Hell, Hannity still does to this day!). They hear him condemning America for its grievous sins against society, they hear him talking about the "USKKKA", and they cry foul. He just hates America!

    When, really? He's just holding America responsible for hating his people, and others, still to this very day. In the year 2009, biggotry is *still* an issue in America.

  • OliverWendelHolmslice says:

    As a gay person, this is going to sound strange, but I actually understand where the religious right is comming from on gay marriage. I disagree with them fundamentally, but I get it: to them there is a traditional definition of mariage from the bible and that is IT, end of discussion.

    The issue of visitation rights for gay people though, really peels back the mask of the right and separates the generic social conservatives from the outright eliminationist homophobes. When you actively oppose two people who care about eachother just BEING IN THE SAME FUCKING ROOM, then all pretense of moral high ground immediately evaporates.

  • OliverWendelHolmslice says:

    One more thing, I know relying on anecdotal evidence is not scientifically sound, but I can't help but think that based on some of my experiences (I would love to hear some other people's stories as well) that a major schism is going to continue to form in the Republican party on this issue. I've met a metric shit ton of young Republicans who care passionately about supporting economically conservative positions, but their opinion about "teh gays" is an indifferent "meh, so what?"

    Essentially, gay people have already won on this issue and other gay rights issues as well. We are putting up a hell of a fight now and winning, but what happens when an entire generation of homophobes dies? Gay rights essentially becomes an accepted non-issue. We win by easy default when even the majority of the conservative movement supports or is otherwise unopposed to our position.

  • I think hospital visiting rules are archaic nonsense most of the time, and absurd bullshit for the remainder. If it's not medically necessary to isolate someone, then they should be able to be visited by children, gays, priests, witchdoctors, accountants, estate and trust attorneys, Ed MacMahon and his briefcase full of life insurance policies, television news crews, the Harlem Globetrotters, spouses, band members, petsitters, and even fuckbuddies. Who the fuck cares?

    Oh yeah, hateful people who use their authority to punish others.

  • "As a gay person, this is going to sound strange, but I actually understand where the religious right is comming from on gay marriage. I disagree with them fundamentally, but I get it: to them there is a traditional definition of mariage from the bible and that is IT, end of discussion."

    But that's the tricky bit, isn't it? I mean, which bit of the bible are they claiming is their model? King Solomon and his 300 wives and concubines? Moses' black wife, Zipporah? It's all lizard-brain hooey, like the bible.

  • While I agree that something needs to be done to allow those closest to be with a patient when they are sick and/or dying, I do not believe a marriage amendment is the way to do this. I will be honest and admit I am one of the "religious right", but am also among the first to admit that sometimes there are those who use their religion as "law" instead of reaching out to those in sin as the bible tells us to do.

    The bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin, so I can not support gay marriage for that reason. I believe in marriage as designed for one man and one woman. While I noted posts indicating biblical role models failed, that is the wonder of what Christ gave us – grace. We have ALL failed and fallen into sin. The only one without sin, Christ, provided our salvation from sin if we repent and put our faith in him.

    That being said, I do support legislation that would allow for each person, regardless of sexual preference, to be treated with dignity which I would agree is needed in hospitals, and I believe biblically that is supported. Love the sinner, hate the sin. I know some may be angry with these views. I just want you to know, as someone from the right I understand and empathize on the issue, but do not agree with the way to change it.

  • Aslan Maskhadov says:

    Jack, do you believe that US law is not, was never, and should not be based on Biblical law? It's fine to say that you don't agree with something due to religion, but laws should be judged according to the constitution or other relevant documents(in reference to other countries), not the Bible or any other religious book.

  • Aslan, I believe laws should be made according to the people and the constitution. What other countries do is their affair, we do not have to abide by another countries laws except with regards to treaties we sign with other countries. In addition, our founding fathers made it clear in the Constitution that religion was important in developing our laws. So I would argue that if the majority of people want biblical law to take precedent over man-made laws, there is nothing wrong with that.

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