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. Brad

    Thank you, Mr. President. You should hear from those who think you are on the right path.

    April 15, 2010 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Russ T.

    Wait. This is fine for gays and lesbians who may have spent decades together.

    How about my "life partner"(I am male, she is female). We are not married but have been living together for 21 years of the 28 years we have been together(Virginia no longer has "common law" marriage).

    If she or myself ended up in the hospital for a serious issue, could either of us visit one another in the same manner our family members could? I would think the answer is yes, because this new policy signed by the President should not include only couples of the same sex.


    April 16, 2010 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  3. Chris

    Thank you so very much Mr. President.

    April 16, 2010 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  4. Moby

    Okay, I see this situation happening. If they are not married how do you tell if that "gay" person is the acutal partner of someone in the hospital if they cant marry? Sir your going to have to step to one side and take the gay test.

    April 16, 2010 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  5. zet mncube

    all over the world,we've got aids that is killing our nation,but as soon as people hear the words gays and lesbians its like a serial killer that has destroyed their families,everyone want to comment about us,but the question is 'how do you comment about something that you think you know?people don't have an idea what is a lesbian or gay,but everytime they see us they want to abuse us,not asking anything that they require to know,everywhere where we go each and every person is pointing fingers at us.

    April 16, 2010 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  6. Michael

    Obama, nor the Federal Government, have the right to enact this rule or law. This type of law is a State's Rights Issue. Once again, Obama is overstepping his authority. How will this effect religious hospitals? A large percentage of hospitals in this nation, and some of the best, are owned by the Catholic Church or other denominational churches. So, will the Federal Govt now be able to tread on those Church's religious freedoms?

    April 16, 2010 at 2:24 am | Report abuse |
  7. jonty - south africa

    Well done Mr. President, a nation that neglects the rights of any of its population is doomed to fail. America is meant to be the world leader in Democracy yet it is far behind us , how about giving the gay and lesbian community the right to marry and have it intrenched in your constitution !

    April 16, 2010 at 4:01 am | Report abuse |
  8. patricia lambertucci

    this is very exaggerated .. i am a 22 yr rn at a large healthcanr system in fl. i am an icu nurse. there have never been restrictions on visitation of siignicant others. visitation and healthcare surrogate are patient directed

    April 16, 2010 at 5:39 am | Report abuse |
  9. Joe Iadonisi

    Come on, this is not a concern of the most powerful man in the world. Wake up America, this guy needs to be working on trade and unemployment issues. Leave the private sector to the private sector!

    I am not a homosexual and will not be able to visit my life long best friend. Just because we do not engage in unnatural sex does not mean I do not love him. Should I have the same visitation rights as his family ( that I am very close to).

    This move by the president is another example of political hypocritacy which has become the social norm of our political system.

    April 16, 2010 at 5:59 am | Report abuse |
  10. sobohon

    I love that our president said something. It is not only a boon to the gay & lesbian population, but for those of us who hold some friends closer than some members of our families. You don't get to choose family, but you do choose friends. There are some members of my family I would prefer not to see if I'm not well.

    April 16, 2010 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jordan B (UK)

    Great move, A truel sign that the world is evolving to accept.

    April 16, 2010 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
  12. MisterFish(UK)

    Well Done.

    About time we got some kindness in this world.


    The World just got a little brighter and more joyous.

    Thank you.

    April 16, 2010 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  13. Terry A

    I am a Canadian (for the record) and I don't profess to understand all the legalities of the situation, but it amazes me to no end how people who have no vested interest in the outcome of what Pres. Obama is attempting can just blow it off as unimportant or catering to special interest groups or even unnecessary becuase "it already happens at my hospital". The latter is like saying that racism is non-existant because Alabama doesn't have "colored's only" water fountains any more. It's obviously a problem that needs to be dealt with, even though some hospitals and/or staff either don't have or enforce policies that others do. So having a national policy to protect the RIGHTS (I know how Americans cherish their rights) of every patient to allow their family members (however that gets defined) will hopefully fix the problem where it still is a problem.

    Obviously Pres. Obama has many other issues to deal with, but that certainly doesn't mean that he should ignore the needs of the people he serves, even if some of the other people he serves are bigoted or simply indifferent. All of your needs are important, from medical to spiritual (however you may define that) to financial to defensive. It's the fact that he cares enough to deal with all important issues that makes him a good president and a good human. I wish he was running my country instead of the brainless robot we have in charge.

    You should be greatful that your current Commander In Chief has a good head on his shoulders and can speak intelligently without a teleprompter. The last few years before Pres. Obama were scary for the rest of us. Although he isn't able to make all the positive changes he'd like to despite the office he holds, I can see Pres. Obama doing more good than any Pres. in a long long time. Things are looking up.

    April 16, 2010 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  14. Tyffany

    Thank you President Obama for giving us a little step in the right direction for equality.

    April 16, 2010 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  15. Gary Beam

    It's about time! My partner and I have been together for 12 years and even with our domestic partnership and legal forms such as healthcare surrogate and other's, there is no guarantee that we would be allowed to see each other in the hospital, should something happen to one of us. We finally have a President who cares about other's who aren't necessarily like himself. Let's just hope that the Republicans don't win the White House in 2012. Thank you President Obama!

    April 16, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
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