Visiting hours

Obama expands rights of same-sex partners
By ANDREW STEINBEISER  |  June 3, 2010

Hospitals cannot bar one member of a same-sex couple from visiting the other member during medical treatment, according to an April order by President Barack Obama. Non-blood-relatives who are designated by the patients must now be given “privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy,” the president directed.

Fighting back: Two cases in federal court here in Massachusetts could help turn the national tide against DOMA. By Deirdre Fulton.

Marriage and the Supremes: What will the highest court say about same-sex matrimony? By Jeff Inglis.

Open service: Repeal of military’s gay ban moves forward. By Kegan Zema.

The order applies to almost every US hospital — all those that accept Medicare and Medicaid funding — and is seen as a victory for gay rights because it allows gay and lesbian patients to have their partners visit them and consult with doctors, even if other family members object.

This is the latest non-legislative move Obama has taken to expand gay rights, even as he continues to say he opposes same-sex marriage.

In June 2009, the president expanded some benefits to gay and lesbian government employees. While he stopped short of allowing full federal health-care coverage (and blamed that on the limits of DOMA), he did order that same-sex partners could participate in the federal long-term-care program, and let federal workers use sick leave to care for domestic partners and “non-biological, non-adopted” children. Also, same-sex partners of federal employees working overseas will be included in housing allocations and, if needed, emergency evacuations of American personnel.

UPDATE: On June 2, Obama extended additional benefits to federal government employees in same-sex relationships, including access to child care services and support, use of family leave for domestic partners and their children, and considering same-sex partners and any children as members of the employee's family when considering relocations or promotions.

  Topics: News Features , Barack Obama, Health and Fitness, Social Issues,  More more >
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