They had been together for 18 years and had three adopted children but neither that fact or the legal documentation presented to the hospital (living wills, advanced directives and power-of-attorney documents) was sufficient to allow 39 y/o Lisa Pond to have her family at her bedside when she was dying at the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
Although it sounds like the hospital was wrong — LEGALLY they were right. Lisa Pond’s family, according to the law, was not a “real family.” No, Lisa and her partner were not legally married — they would have been if the law had allowed it — but in Florida a long term, loving relationship and three children is not sufficient under a law that supposes that only a man and a woman can be a true married couple. Lisa Pond and Janice Langbehn were a gay couple and, to quote a Charles Dickens character:
“If the law supposes that, the law is a ass, a idiot.
Janice Langbehn was finally allowed a five minute visit, by herself, as a priest administered last rites to her life partner and later, Lisa Pond’s children finally did get to see her — she didn’t know that however. After she had slipped into an unconscious state that she would never awake from, they were allowed a visit. They all, no doubt, told her during their visit that they loved her and all, no doubt, cried and, as children do, they no doubt begged her to get better; its a shame their words fell on deaf ears; a shame that Lisa Pond could not reach out her hand ans assure them. 10-1/2 hours later Lisa Pond was pronounced brain dead.
This happened over two years ago but Janice Langbehn and her children (Danielle, 15; David, 13; and Katie, 12) are as devastated now as they were then over their losses. Janice has filed a Federal lawsuit; she and the kids are being represented by Beth Littrell, a lawyer with Lambda Legal, a gay rights group. From what I’ve read, they aren’t asking for monetary damages, what they want to send a message Ms. Littrell said, so that in the future, hospitals all over the country have a legal responsibility to “let patients define their own circle of intimacy and give them the dignity and care to be with their loved ones in this sort of crisis.”
The Olympian: Love, loss underscore woman’s fight
Sarasota Herald Tribune: Kept From a Dying Partner’s Bedside
Today’s Letter: A Gay Dad asks Governor Schwarzenegger for the Freedom to Marry
The Perimeter Progressive: Love makes the world go ’round . . . Unless you’re in the hospital.
(NOTE: I always try to find opposing viewpoints in my News and Blog Links but, in this case, I was unsuccessful.)