Recent Broward Law Blog Features

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Lesbian Sues for Denying Access to Dying Partner

A gay woman not allowed to visit her dying partner at Jackson Memorial Hospital in 2007 hopes a federal judge will allow her claims of emotional distress and negligence to go to trial.

This from Laura Figueroa in the Miami Herald:

"As her partner of 17 years slipped into a coma, Janice Langbehn pleaded with doctors and anyone who would listen to let her into the woman's hospital room.
Eight anguishing hours passed before Langbehn would be allowed into Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center. By then, she could only say her final farewell as a priest performed the last rites on 39-year-old Lisa Marie Pond.
Jackson staffers advised Langbehn that she could not see Pond earlier because the hospital's visitation policy in cases of emergency was limited to immediate family and spouses -- not partners. In Florida, same-sex marriages or partnerships are not recognized. On Friday, two years after her partner's death, Langbehn and her attorneys were in federal court, claiming emotional distress and negligence in a suit they filed last June. "

Please, please read the rest of the article here.

I want you to understand the pain that lesbian and gay partners can endure under the present laws. When I founded the Express Gay News in 1999, one of the first articles I ran was the tragic story of a gay NBC staffer who was killed in a helicopter crash. His partner of ten years was denied access to their home and the funeral after his death, because the parents of the deceased gay reporter could not accept their son was gay and had a male partner.
Six months later, a lesbian police officer was slain in a bank robbery in Tampa. The Hillsborough County Commission was denied the right to give her surviving spouse, another police officer, benefits, because they were not legally married. And years later, pending now in Fort Lauderdale before Judge Moe, I have a case of false arrest against the State, where one gay partner cannot claim a lack of consortium for his spouse, because there is no legal right to marry.

These issues are not abstract. They are very real, very human. Judge Cindy Lederman understood this when she empowered a gay couple to adopt last month. Lesbians and gays love and breathe and bleed and die just like straight couples. That is what the fight for equal rights is all about. Join it today. Feel better about yourself tomorrow. N.K.

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