Monday, April 19, 2010

Free at last, free at last, thank Obama Almighty...

This is a guest post from a former gay-activist friend who wishes to maintain some discretion for partner-related reasons.

My current topic is President Obama's recent order on same sex partners and hospitals, which the MSM and other media have seized upon as the equivalent of President Lincoln emancipating the slaves and American soldiers liberating Dachau all rolled into one. A Martian or even merely a bewildered Pole wandering into the media reports could be forgiven for assuming that all American hospitals demanded genetic proof or legal documents certifying blood relationships to screen their patient's visitors and make sure no same-sex loved ones snuck in. And of course there have been the isolated tragedies where, as in the case I most hear reported, the same-sex partner of a woman in Florida was barred from her bedside as she lay dying. There are no words to describe how awful that was and, seeing as the woman barred had the necessary legal documents (medical power of attorney etc.) to have brought her into the room, she has every right to sue and should sue.

But as in the old saying hard cases make bad law, such cases are hardly the norm and my partner's and my experience bears this out.

We live in a state which has hardly been considered a gay haven. It is not Massachusetts, California or even Vermont and has generally been among the most scarlet of the red states. Yet in our four or five visits to the hospital or emergency room over of our more-than-25-year friendship (all but the first seven of it chaste and accord to the teaching of the Church), we have never been accorded anything less than the most sincere respect, consideration and consultation. At those times when either one of us has had to be in hospital overnight, hospital staff have been solicitous about not kicking us out of the room when visiting hours finally ended and no one has murmured when the sick one of us has asked the other be present during consultation or even treatment. It has simply been a non-issue.

This, I believe, is how the topic has been going for some time, admittedly state to state and in an inefficient patchwork, but ultimately, I believe, in a healthier way as people gradually come to understand that love, not legality, is what makes up a person's most authentic family, the family one really wants and need to see when they heal from an accident or illness.

I view the President's move as essentially cynical politics. He has been under fire from an interest group which has been vocal in supporting him because he wisely discerned that caving in their demands would paralyze his administration and almost certainly limit him to one term. This move cost him little political capital and is almost attack-proof. Who after all, even among the most callous of gay-rights opponents, will stand up and argue that long-term same-sex partners not be allowed in to see their loved ones? Sure, there are undoubtedly some, but they are likely of the sort that Administration can only wish would rise up to decry the move.

But it was a move he didn't need to make and I fear it might, in the end, wind up actually hurting some of the very people it ostensibly seeks to protect by furthering and fostering the impression that the acceptance of same-sex relationships is not and cannot develop normally and naturally and instead can only be brought in on the wings of a federal mandate -- something which I do not believe to be the case.