The Daily Gamecock

Hospitals must recognize same-sex rights, too

According to Obama’s mandates, power of attorney applies to all couples

A week or two has passed since everyone came out of the closet to support gay marriage. Profile pictures have changed back from equal signs to actual photos of people again, but the problem hasn’t yet been solved. How the government recognizes gay and lesbian couples right now seems as black and white as the biblical passages often thrown around by the staunch opposition. Yet the country continues to muddle through its regulation of the unions with each state dictating what specific rights will belong to American citizens merely because they love differently.

This week in Missouri, Roger Gorely was arrested in the Research Medical Center of Kansas City for refusing to leave the bedside of his sick partner. Gorely had been appointed by his partner as having power of attorney in medical situations, giving him more of a right to be there than any other family member or friend. In April 2010, President Barack Obama mandated “that nearly all hospitals extend visitation rights to the partners of gay men and lesbians and respect patients’ choices about who may make critical healthcare decisions for them.” The nurse in this Missouri hospital refused to look up the information to confirm Gorely’s power of attorney, refused to let him make decisions and, rather than abiding by the president’s orders, had him arrested for causing problems.

The government has been as involved in gay marriage as any social issue that dictates the rights belonging to people who fall into a certain category, such as civil rights or immigration, and Obama has been clear on his stance. In his inaugural address this winter, he made his opinion clear: “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

This may have been the match to start a fire for change because since then even the Republican Party has started to show its support, even if it’s only from a few party members. Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois suffered a stroke last year, and upon his return swore to help fight for change, saying, “Our time on this earth is limited; I know that better than most. Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back — government has no place in the middle.”

It’s a victory for people as powerful as Obama and Kirk to recognize the necessity for change because they’re the ones who can really make the changes in our countries laws. But when individuals choose not to acknowledge something as serious as power of attorney because they don’t agree with someone’s sexual orientation, it’s as blatantly unethical as sending someone to a separate door or water fountain due to the color of his or her skin.


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