Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Woman denied hospital visitation rights

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.Following a hearing lasting more than an hour Friday, U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan said he would try to decide soon whether the case could proceed to trial. He gave no specific date.The suit is winding its way through federal court only months after voters approved the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The statewide amendment garnered more than 62 percent of voters -- surpassing the 60 percent threshold required for ratification.Supporters of Florida's Amendment 2 -- mostly conservatives and Christian groups -- argued it was needed to protect families and the traditional institution of marriage by promoting homes with a mom and a dad.Opponents argued that gay and straight, unmarried Floridians risked losing domestic partner benefits, such as health insurance, hospital visitation rights and the ability to make end-of-life decisions.At Friday's hearing, Langbehn's lawyers argued the case should be tried because Langbehn had the proper documentation to make medical decisions on behalf of her partner, and was not consulted about Pond's condition for hours despite seeking answers every 20 minutes.''This is not just about same-sex couples,'' said attorney Donald Hayden, who is also representing the Langbehn family. ``This is about protecting the legal access that a parent has to see a child, or an essential loved ones right to be aware of what is going on with their loved one.''Attorneys for Jackson argued that hospital staff did not purposely try to harm the family or cause emotional stress.''There's just not enough there to say that these doctors intentionally tried to cause distress,'' attorney Andrew Boese told the judge.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.''Langbehn's supporters are livid about the hospital's actions.''We are here to ensure that families get the respect they deserve at Jackson Memorial Hospital and to prevent Janice's tragedy from happening to anyone else,'' said Beth Littrell, an attorney for Lambda Legal, a national group that fights for the civil rights of gays. ``This family deserves to have its day in court.''

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sexist wedding traditions

Summer is almost here, which means...it's wedding season!!! "Here comes the bride, all dressed in white..." Weddings are full of traditions, most of which an American audience is familiar with. Even some of the most empowered women follow outdated and even sexist traditions in their weddings. Let's take a look at some, listed in no particular order. (And to anyone who may read this who is LGBT, I apologize-I realize that this particular posting is mainly geared towards heterosexual couples.)
1) The focus on the bride!! Why is the bride the sole focus of attention?Sure, she's about to make some vows and take a big life step. So is the groom! He's about to make those same vows and take that same leap. Why is he ignored?
2) The engagement ring. Why do only women wear it? Why shouldn't men? Oh, right. Because women who are "taken" must always show that they are.
3) The hand-off. When the minister says, "Who gives this woman to be married?" her father or other significant male in her life replies that he does. The mother doesn't give the bride away, only the father. Does the bride not make this choice to be married of her own free will? Why, then, is she being "given away" at all? The "giving away" symbolizes a transfer of ownership.
4) Guests standing as the bride walks down the aisle. I know, I know...standing is a sign of respect. Respect for what? Respect for the bride because now she's got a man to take care of her for the rest of her life? A woman should be respected for her accomplishments, not her landing of a man.
5)The bride taking the groom's last name. Again, an outdated symbol of a transfer of ownership.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Washington-Decline to Sign Petitious for Referendum 71!

I remember clearly the day that the Washington legislature voted to upgrade the rights granted to couples in domestic partnerships. I also remember saying that equality opponents were never going to sit stilll. Never had I wanted so badly to be wrong, but sadly, I was right. On Monday, Larry Stickney, president of the Washington Values Association, filed Referendum 71. This referendum, if it gets on the ballot, will give voters the ability to strip couples in domestic partnerships of the few rights they so recently gained. Now people are out trying to collect signatures to get this referendum on the ballot. They have to have over 120,500 signatures by July 25 to have this on the November 3 ballot.All I have to say to the people who support this referendum is:Why? How does this issue affect you, your marriage, or your life in any way? All this referendum will do if it passes is strip people-fellow human beings-of their rights. Certain couples are already being denied, at last count, 1,138 federal rights (Source: http://lataxlawyer.net/ab205.html) Why would you want to strip them of the very few rights that they did gain when our new domestic partnership laws went into effect? This isn't an issue about religion. You don't have to personally accept LGBT people -heck, you don't even have to talk to them. Your churches can continue to refuse to bless same-sex unions. All you have to do is acknowlege that in those same sex unions are two PEOPLE.DECLINE TO SIGN!!!

Friday, April 24, 2009


We have a new, more progressive government in power. Yay. Good for us. We did it.
So, why do we still need to constantly be on our guard? Answer: Because there will always be people who attempt to censor the progressive voice. Take Amazon, for instance. During the last couple of weeks, we have all become aware of Amazon's policy of deeming LGBT literature "adult" and therefore unsearchable. When Amazon deems books "adult" they will not show up in the search results, therefore helping ensure that the information in those books never gets out. Was this a mistake, or deliberate? Methinks the latter.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why the LGBT community needs hatecrime protection.

Lesbian's brutal gang rape investigated in Calif.SAN FRANCISCO - A woman in the San Francisco Bay area was jumped by four men, taunted for being a lesbian, repeatedly raped and left naked outside an abandoned apartment building, authorities said Monday.Detectives say the 28-year-old victim was attacked Dec. 13 after she got out of her car, which bore a rainbow gay pride sticker. The men, who ranged from their late teens to their 30s, made comments indicating they knew her sexual orientation, said Richmond police Lt. Mark Gagan."It just pushes it beyond fathomable," he said. "The level of trauma — physical and emotional — this victim has suffered is extreme."Authorities are characterizing the attack as a hate crime but declined to reveal why they think the woman was singled out because of her sexual orientation. Gagan would say only that the victim lived openly with a female partner and had a rainbow flag sticker on her car.Raped several timesThe 45-minute attack began when one of the men approached the woman as she crossed the street, struck her with a blunt object, ordered her to disrobe and sexually assaulted her on the spot with the help of the other men.When the group saw another person approaching, they forced the victim back into her car and took her to a burned-out apartment building, where she was raped again inside and outside the vehicle. The assailants took her wallet and drove off in her car. Officers found the car abandoned two days later.The woman sought help from a nearby resident, and she was examined at a hospital. Although the victim said she did not know her attackers, detectives hope someone in the community knows them. One of the men went by the nickname "Blue" and another was called "Pato," according to authorities.Richmond police are offering a $10,000 award for information leading to the arrest of the attackers.Hate crimes against gays increasingGay rights advocates note that hate crimes based on sexual orientation have increased nationwide as of late. There were 1,415 such crimes in 2006 and 1,460 in 2007, both times making up about 16 percent of the total, according to the FBI.Avy Skolnik, a coordinator with the New York-based National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, noted that gay, lesbian and transgender crime victims may be more reluctant than heterosexual victims to contact police."Assailants target LGBT people of all gender identities with sexual assault," he said. "Such targeting is one of the most cruel, dehumanizing and violent forms of hate violence that our communities experience."Skolnik said the group plans to analyze hate crime data to see whether fluctuations may be related to the gay marriage bans that appeared on ballots this year in California, Arizona and Florida."Anytime there is an anti-LGBT initiative, we tend to see spikes both in the numbers and the severity of attacks," he said. "People feel this extra entitlement to act out their prejudice