Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Some Polical Ramblings

Just back from whirlpool, which went well -- i.e. I didn't pass out. The foot is showing improvement, and they predict that the wounds will probably all be closed up within two weeks. Excellent news!

We've been chatting about this whole situation: nearly two weeks in the hospital and Thomas providing home care. And we've had a couple of realizations of a political nature, which we'd like to share. Today, hospital visitation.

We realized that we're very lucky we don't live in Virginia or Ohio, or probably several other states. If this had happened in Virginia or Ohio, if Don had been in the hospital in either of those states, then Thomas would not have been able to see him, accompany him to treatments and such, or act as his health care agent. In fact, if a Virginia or Ohio hospital allowed Thomas to do any of these things, the hospital would be breaking the law.

Why? Because Don and Thomas are a same-sex couple -- and in Virginia and Ohio, it is illegal to grant a same-sex couple any benefits that approximate the benefits of marriage. That includes hospital visitation, presence at treatment, and making health care decisions for the other person. In Virginia, this discrimination is part of the state constitution.

Luckily, we are in Maryland, where the laws are a little bit looser. Despite the efforts of people like Delegate Don Dwyer, Maryland has not yet passed obnoxious laws like those of Virginia or Ohio. And it seems unlikely that Dwyer and his ilk will find any success in their quest to discriminate against us.

We're still not safe, though. While Maryland has no laws against such things, it also doesn't have many laws positively protecting us. We're okay on the "health care agent" business, since Don can fill out a form designating Thomas as his agent.

Hospital visitation, though, is a little more in doubt. The Legislature passed a law specifically granting same-sex couples the right of hospital visitation -- but Governor Ehrlich vetoed it because it sounded too much like a step toward gay marriage.

So if a hospital decided that they didn't like gay couples, and refused to allow Thomas in to see Don...well, we would have no legal recourse. We're lucky that St. Agnes is a sensible and compassionate hospital; we might not be so lucky in the future.

One more thing: these rights of hospital visitation, presence at treatment, being health care agent -- these are all rights that any opposite-sex couple gains automatically with marriage. Two drunken fools who meet in Vegas and get married that same day, automatically have these benefits. Thomas and Don, who are going on 25 years together and who love each other beyond measure...we have to rely on the goodwill of the hospital to have the same benefits.

Is that fair?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad you feeling better and just one word about your ramblings - specifically the question at the end....