April 15th, 2010
07:58 PM ET

Obama orders hospital visit rights for gays, lesbians

[Updated at 7:57 p.m.] The president's memo Thursday notes that "There are few moments in our lives that call for great compassion and companionship that when a loved one is admitted to the hospital ... Yet every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides ..."

Read the president's memorandum (PDF)

Gay and lesbian Americans are "uniquely affected" by the relatives-only policy at hospitals, Obama said, adding that they "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."

The president listed widowers without children and members of certain religious orders among those who suffer under the policy.

Read the full CNN.com story

[Posted at 7:49 p.m.] President Barack Obama has told the Department of  Health and Human Services to establish a rule that would not allow hospitals to deny visitation privileges to gay and lesbian partners.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Gay and lesbian • Health • Politics
soundoff (150 Responses)
  1. James

    I am very greatful that The President has step up to bat for Gay and Lesbian couples. We live in world that should be color blind to love.

    April 15, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. wannetta

    That Power of Attorney doesn't always mean anything, especially if you are in Florida. Sure, you can take them to court, but it doesn't mean much when your partner died all alone.

    April 15, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John

    Thankyou so much Mr. President. I def. voted for the right person. This is a proud day for the LGBT Community. this should have been placed into action a long time ago. Thankyou Obama for making this happen for us all.

    April 15, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. agale

    I think this is a great step, but I'm now left wondering what happens to the heterosexual, non-married couples. Can they still not visit each other in the hospital? And since there is no documentation proclaiming who is someone's non-married significant other, how are hospitals supposed to decide who can/can't have visitation rights? I'm in full support of LGBT rights, but I just feel that there are more things about this bill that I wish were addressed and fully explained. If homosexual partners are granted visitation, then so should heterosexual non-related partners. I'm just in full support of rights for HUMANITY.

    April 15, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dick Hertz

    Does this apply to Boy friend/ girl friends. I know many straight couples that have been living together but not married Would this violation of HIPPA be bestowed to them. Why not also give these rights to family dogs, cats, & gold fish that have been long time members of any family. Who gets the right to pull the plug (murder rap). Remember to blame the Dog. I'm still having trouble trying to figure out how same sex couples by themselves can pro-create with medical assistance. I don't remember seeing any ancient wall drawings of Gays.

    April 15, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Patrick

    one small step by the president, one giant step for mankind!

    April 15, 2010 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. madtownRN

    I am an ICU nurse at a major trauma facility in this country.... We already do this everyday all across the country.... For heaven's sake let them marry!!! That would be groundbreaking and worthy of a news story!

    April 15, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Barbara

    I am a nurse and fortunately have never run up against a "family only" policy I have had to enforce, however that was not the case when my daughters partner had serious complications following surgery. Families are defined by more than blood or legal ties. Thank you President Obama.

    April 15, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. montrealer

    Mr President Obama, Thank you for the rational and important move, I’m not homosexual and I live in Canada although you are my President as well. I admire you.

    April 15, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rebecca Kramer

    It's clear as could be: letting a loved one visit in the hospital is a good thing.

    April 15, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. joel

    I am gay and have experienced discrimination of this nature. it is abhorrent. However, contrary to what Obama thinks and acts, he is not a dictator or king. He does not have absolute authority and has no rite to tell a private business how to operate. this is as abhorrent as the right wing trying to legislate their morality.

    April 15, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. John

    Will opposite sex, unmarried partners be allowed in as well? How will it be known who is a partner? Must they be living together?

    It will be interesting to see how this is worded. Will it grant equal rights, or will it be a case of special rights, available only to homosexuals.

    April 15, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Adrienne

    This made me cry.
    Thank you. Thank you for caring about us.

    April 15, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Courtney

    John F, while it's good you have all these legal documents, some hospitals still refuse to recognize them when it comes to same-sex couples.
    Did you not hear about the woman in Florida? This happened recently.

    It happens all the time but of course the media isn't always there to report it.

    April 15, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Nata

    What?? it was forbidden for gay people visit their partner in hospital? I believe I'm missunderstanding something... it can't be that.
    (I'm not from USA... somebody could explain me?

    April 15, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
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