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. concerned

    Thank you Obama for speaking up, shedding light and righting the sittuation. My partner and I have been together for a little over 1 year and he is and active-duty soldier in the US Army. I am listed as his emergency medical contact, beneficiary, and next of kin. My question is, although i am listed for all, does this apply to army base hospitals and V.A. hospitals? Where does DADT come into play in this "memo". What a great day for the gay community none the less!! Next up, do away with DADT and legalize gay marriage!

    April 16, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Amy in SF

    Wow a memo.... That's what I call active non-action for the gay community, Thanks Mr. President for making gay rights issues a political game. Hey, by the way, only Hillary's state department provides equal opportunity health care coverage to gay and lesbian partners of Federal state department employees. Where is your memo on this issue, Mr. President, for Federal employees? The king has no clothes, Mr. Obama.

    April 16, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jackie Boehm

    Thank you Mr. President for ALL that you do & for ALL that you have already done. How refreshing to have some common sense in our world for a change. You are a beloved President by the silent majority. Its too bad the freakos get all of the attention.

    April 16, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ken

    this is a great move. Long overdue. I wonder what the right wingers will try to come up with against this, how it will destroy society if this rule is left alone.
    of course also presidential orders only lasts as long as that president is in office.

    April 16, 2010 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. vincent black

    That's great. How does it help the economy? People need jobs, gays and straights, bi, trans-gender. I think he needs to focus on where people are hurting the most, first. It doesn' t seem like much is getting done, lots of talking, and "special panels" and "summits" but where are the results?

    I believe that everyone deserves the same rights regardless of race, color,creed or sexual orientation.

    nice job mr. president on the gay rights action for hospital visitation rights.

    April 17, 2010 at 3:07 am | Report abuse |
  6. Brooke

    My partner and I have been togather 15 years. She has a chronic medical condition that requires her to stay in the hospital frequenty. We have been very lucky that no one has ever questioned who I was or prevented me from seeing her. 6 years ago there was a falling out with her mother and sister where I was the "bad guy" and now they HATE me. Since then my fear has been that if there ever camme a time when my partner was not able to speak for herself, that her mother and sister would point out that I'm not "family" to the hospital. That is why I'm SO gratful for this policy!! Yes, in some hospitals or even most the signanficant other is NOT prevented from being by their loved one's side. But I do believe that this will protect blood family members from coming in and reacting on their discrimination against gays or lesbains. Of course, I say let us have legal marriage. Because one day it WILL happen, BUT at this point anything is better than nothing!!

    April 17, 2010 at 4:14 am | Report abuse |
  7. f u

    this is the first good thing obama has ever done he's still a horrible president and i still hate him, all of the democrats are against him and that says something, he needs to go...now

    April 17, 2010 at 4:29 am | Report abuse |
  8. Deb Clark

    Well done!!!!!!! Wonderful.

    April 17, 2010 at 6:08 am | Report abuse |
  9. Rachel

    Joe Iadonisi – Are you joking? You don't think your president should take care of the rights of citizens of his own country? Just because you obviously don't agree with how they live their lives doesn't mean they deserve any less attention. It's not your business who they have sex with- they deserve equal rights. They should be able to visit their life partner, just as you should. Your 'life long best friend' is not your 'life partner'. It's a different thing, so don't even try that argument. I'm not denying that you don't love him, but your love for him is different to that of a homosexual couple!

    Also, to those arguing about the rights of unmarried heterosexual couples- read the article again. This new rule pertains to you too.

    April 17, 2010 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
  10. josh

    I think this was a great move, one that should've been done a long time ago. Also, for everyone saying he has more important things like debt to worry about. Yeah, you might be right, but this debt is nothing new. It's been building and building before Obama got into office and it would be idiotic to think we can just make trillions of dollars in debt dissappear in an instance. It's going to take time to take care of our national debt, no matter who the president is. I like the things that Obama has accomplished so far and I have full faith that he will do everything in his power to reduce the national debt. I just think it's funny how people are so quick to cut down and say how bad a president sucks but if they were in office I highly doubt that person would take care of our debt lol, and hey if by SOME chance you do know how to solve it then maybe you should run for office rather then leaving comments on cnn.com lol

    April 17, 2010 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  11. K

    Hopefully, a hundred years from now, we'll look back on our evil practice of LOVE BIAS the way we now look back on "White Only" signs.

    April 17, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  12. northernurse

    thank you, now make the states RECOGNIZE!

    April 17, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Shannon


    That is not how HIPAA works, HIPAA has nothing to do with visitors at your bedside, it has to do with your information being released. HIPAA means that the nurse/doctor cannot tell your wife/husband/significant other anything about your condition without your permission.

    Yes, this also means that if they were to call the hospital and ask if you were admitted, they would have to say "We can neither confirm nor deny..." but if you already know where the patient is located then nobody should be able to stop you from visiting your loved one.

    April 17, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jazmine

    i love obama

    April 17, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. J

    Sadly this should have never been a issue. Thank you for corrected this absurdity.

    April 17, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
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