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Federal Court Throws Out Suit Against Miami Hospital By Lesbian Barred From Dying Partner
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Federal Court Throws Out Suit Against Miami Hospital By Lesbian Barred From Dying Partner

Jim Burroway September 29th, 2009

Janice Langbehn holding a photo of Lisa PondA federal court in Miami hasdismissed a lawsuit filed by a Janice Langbehn, a Washington state lesbian who was not allowed to visit her dying partner at Jackson Memorial Hospital in February 2007.

Lisa Pond suffered an aneurysm just before she, her partner, and three children were about to embark on a family cruise to celebrate Janice and Lisa's eighteenth anniversary. Pond was rushed to Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital, but hospital personnel and social workers refused to allow Langbehn access to pond even after a power of attorney was sent to the hospital naming Langbehn. It was only because of the intervention by a Catholic priest who was called to perform last rites that Langbehn was able to spend a few minutes with Janice before she died.

Today, a federal judge threw out a lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal on behalf of Langbehn. According to a statement from Lambda Legal:

"The court's decision paints a tragically stark picture of how vulnerable same-sex couples and their families really are during times of crisis," said Beth Littrell, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta. "We hope that because of Janice's courage to seek justice for her family i n this case that more people better understand the costs of antigay discrimination. This should never happen to anyone."

...The court ruled that the hospital has neither an obligation to allow their patients' visitors nor any obligation whatsoever to provide their patients' families, healthcare surrogates, or visitors with access to patients in their trauma unit. The court has given the Langbehn-Pond family until October 16 to review the ruling and consider all legal options.

Jackson Memorial Hospital also issued a statement:
We have always believed and known that the staff at Jackson treats everyone equally, and that their main concern is the well-being of the patients in their care. ...Jackson will continue to work with the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community to ensure that everyone knows they are welcome at all of o ur facilities, where they will receive the highest quality of medical care.

The phrase "everone knows they are welcome" stikes me as perhaps the most cynical statement ever made by any organization or individual. If they've changed any of their policies since Lisa's death, I can find no evidence for it. Nor can I find any hint of recongition that they've done anything so vile and inhumane as to deny one of their patients the company of their family in their last dying hours. Their behavior toward Janice was outrageous and beyond contemptuous, and they offered not even so much as a "sorry" afterwards.

And to those who claim that marriage doesn't matter because other legal arrangements are good enough, take a look at Janice Langbehn and her three children. Tell them that they weren't discriminated against. I dare you.

full story:
http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2009/09/29/15086#comment-50662

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