Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW

Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW

Social Justice Solutions | Staff Writer
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Romney May End Hospital Visitation Rights for Gays and Lesbians

In April 2010 President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum protecting the visitation rights for gays and lesbians in the hospitals. In this Memorandum he states:

“Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives — unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.

For all of these Americans, the failure to have their wishes respected concerning who may visit them or make medical decisions on their behalf has real onsequences. It means that doctors and nurses do not always have the best information about patients’ medications and medical histories and that friends and certain family members are unable to serve as intermediaries to help communicate patients’ needs. It means that a stressful and at times terrifying experience for patients is senselessly compounded by indignity and unfairness. And it means that all too often, people are made to suffer or even to pass away alone, denied the comfort of companionship in their final moments while a loved one is left worrying and pacing down the hall.”

This Memorandum made visitation rights a national issue, ensuring them from a federal level rather than at the state level at which the decision had originally been made. As Obama stated, it’s only humane that these rights be provided.


Now, Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney wants to return that power to the states if he were to take office. He claims that visitation rights are a privileged rather than a right and not something someone should necessarily be entitled to.  We know he is already against gay marriage, but now he wants to deny visits in hospitals by loved ones for gays and lesbians. That is a bit harsh. But is this an anti-gay movement or does it have more to do with returning power to the states? His campaign adviser says “Governor Romney also believes, consistent with the 10th Amendment, that it should be left to states to decide whether to grant same-sex couples certain benefits, such as hospital visitation rights and the ability to adopt children.”

To me it seems more  of an anti-federalist thought process, one which I struggle with this on a personal level. While I feel equal rights such as hospital visitations should be offered to all, I have an issue with how much government currently has it’s fingers in seemingly every decision or choice we have as citizens. This to me seems to be slowly taking away our rights, but at the same time it secures other rights to individuals who at a state level would be denied them in some area’s and not others. There is a fine line between creating equality and enforcing it.

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