Obama & Gay Issues: Part 1

It feels great to say that we finally have a President that listens - truly listens - to our needs and rights within the gay community. This is a bit of old news but I feel compelled to talk about it.

United States President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, July 13, 2010.  UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool Photo via Newscom

Back in April, new rules issued by President Obama gave same-sex couples visitation rights at all hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid, the government programs to cover the elderly and the poor. This spoke volumes to me because recently, I was hospitalized at John Stroger Hospital for Swine flu - not fun - and, it was such a struggle to get my partner in my isolated room. I had to threaten leaving before finally, the head nurse allowed him to come up. It was such a horrible experience for me and I wouldn't want anyone, straight or gay, to go through.

Also, in the memorandum, the White House announced the rule changes, which will also make it easier for gay men and lesbians to make medical decisions on behalf of their partners. 

"Every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindness and caring of a loved one at their sides," Mr. Obama said in the memorandum. And, he also added that the rules could also help widows and widowers who rely on friends and members of religious orders who care for one another.  So, its not only relevant for LGBT people but for those who may not have family or only have a few friends that count as their family.

Its without a doubt that LGBT people are uniquely affected because so often we are barred from visiting our partners with whom we have spent decades. Also, this draws attention to other gay issues like reversing the "don't ask, don't tell," the policy that bars gays from serving openly in the military. The president said in his State of the Union address this year that he intended to move and to overturn the policy, and his administration has been taking steps to do so.

The memorandum is intended to "help ensure that patients will be able to face difficult times in hospitals with compassion, dignity and respect," a White House spokesman, Shin Inouye, said. "By taking these steps, we can better protect the interests and needs of patients that are gay or lesbian, widows and widowers with no children, members of religious orders, or others for whom their loved ones are not always immediate relatives. Because all Americans should be able to have loved ones there for them in their time of need."

Well done, President Obama! Well done!

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