Woohoo! Quietly, last night, Obama issued a presidential memorandum asking the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make hospitals in the Medicaid/Medicare programs respect patients’ rights to receive the visitors they designate – including their same-sex partners.
From the text of the memorandum:
Yet every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides — whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay. Often, a widow or widower with no children is denied the support and comfort of a good friend. Members of religious orders are sometimes unable to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf. 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.
It’s a small step, of course. But it’s an important one. And it maybe indicates that Obama is going to chip away at the unequal status of same-sex couples bit by bit… which might be the only way he can do that without getting Congress involved.
Now if he’ll just negotiate the repeal of DOMA…