If you think domestic partnerships make everything "equal," read this

Karol Collymore

Mary Kitch from The Oregonian had a powerful editorial yesterday on the power of the word "marriage."  I can't write about it any better than she did so I'll link it here.

Here's a snippet:

Patrick took Luis to OHSU, and not only was he admitted to intensive care, Luis had to be placed on a ventilator. On Tuesday, April 14, things became very, very dicey. Luis was out of it. It was just at that moment that a nurse refused to let Patrick back into Luis's room. "We shouldn't have you in the room as his friend," the nurse told Patrick. "Do you know how I reach his next of kin?"

"I'm his registered domestic partner,'' Patrick told her. "Same as husband and wife." But the nurse was insistent that only a family member could fill out the forms and make the decisions that needed to be made for Luis.

Please read the rest over there.

  • Douglas K. (unverified)

    You need to fix that second link.

    One more reason to get a repeal of Measure 37 on the ballot sooner rather than later.

  • Karol Collymore (unverified)

    Thanks, link fixed.

  • tl (in sw) (unverified)

    Try this: http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2009/04/why_the_word_marriage_matters.html

  • Billy Busdriver (unverified)

    The real cultural erosion is coming from the very same folks that deny marriage benefits to GLBTs. One only has to think of Terry Shiavo, and their complete disrespect (continuing) for her husband and their constant arguing to abrogate his rights. They're not even good xtians. "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife." - Mark 10:7 Of couse, anyone that puts children over spouse is guilty of the same hypocrisy. As GLBTs seldom do that, they have the moral high ground, IMHO.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)

    I would have fired that nurse on the spot. Ignorance is no excuse to justify your job.

  • Stu Renfro (unverified)

    [offensive crap deleted - editor.]

  • Marshall Collins (unverified)

    I think this could have been a situation of bad HR follow-up. My partner is an HR professional and he would see companies do things like this all the time. You can't expect your employees to pay attention to current events and laws and remember them. A competent HR department would have all staff read a quarterly report on new laws affecting them and the response in company policy. At the bottom of the notice there will be a spot for the employee to sign and return to HR stating that they have read, understood and will follow the new policy or policy changes and that they understand that not adhering to the policy will result in discipline.

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    Why not do something about it. Join the full equality campaign: FullEquality.org or on facebook: Full Equality Cause.

    We're gathering 1000 signatures to have a ballot title assigned for a possible campaign in 2010.

  • (Show?)

    Strange. The links were deleted on the previous comment. Here's the facebook link: Full Equality Cause and for the main page: FullEquality.org.

  • Tehanu (unverified)

    Karol, thank you for sharing this. I'm sorry to see that trolls seem to think you're an easy target. Cowardly scum is what they are.

  • Thomas Wheatley (unverified)

    I spent the afternoon with Patrick and his partner - the couple profiled in the Oregonian editorial. They are determined to make sure this doesn't happen to other same-sex couples. They spent the day doing interviews with TV networks.

    This incident makes one thing clear: domestic partnerships won't ever carry the same legal certainty as marriage.

    OHSU actually has good policies and educates their staff. If OHSU - our state's premier teaching hospital - can't get this right, then domestic partnerships may fall short of their promise.

    If you are a couple in a domestic partnership and have experienced problems, let Basic Rights Oregon know.

  • LT (unverified)

    "Patrick took Luis to OHSU, and not only was he admitted to intensive care, Luis had to be placed on a ventilator. On Tuesday, April 14, things became very, very dicey. Luis was out of it. It was just at that moment that a nurse refused to let Patrick back into Luis's room. "We shouldn't have you in the room as his friend," the nurse told Patrick. "Do you know how I reach his next of kin?"

    Rude brainless staffer does not mean passage of a gay marriage law would have prevented this sort of thoughtlessness.

    This is a reason to enforce the laws, not necessarily to return to the gay marriage debate before the economy recovers. Now if someone wants to pass a law saying "Domestic Partners have full hospital visitation rights" if it is found that the OHSU employee did not violate the law is something else again.

    It may have just been a stupid individual.

    As I recall, it was years after the handicap accessibility laws were passed that a famous couple (one of them in a wheel chair) went into a restaurant and discovered any patron who wanted to eat there would have had to negotiate stairs.

    So the famous couple called a few reporters they knew and told them what went on, how they thought it was a violation of the law, and they would never darken the doorway of the restaurant again.

    Same thing with minorities and whites doing stings making sure equal housing laws were enforced.

    One thing people want to be careful of is not making it sound like any church would be required to hold marriage services for same sex couples if the law were changed.

    I have been to weddings where the church required premarital counseling, or graduating from a church run marriage preparation class for those who wanted to be married in their church. Those marriages have lasted through thick and thin. Other churches only marry members of the church. Some of the rhetoric in favor of gay marriage makes it sound like churches should not have that right. How does abridging that kind of religious freedom advance anyone's rights?

    You'll never repeal Measure 36 (Doug, M. 37 is what was changed by M. 49--land use) by telling people they have no right to say "marriage is a sacrament, and my church teaches...".

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    With all due respect, you can't just change hospital venues when one is potentially dying.

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    we need to eliminate religious marriage from the civil process. everyone should have a civil marriage, nothing less. anyone wants their god(s) to bless their union, knock yourselves out (Alison & Adrian got hitched at Voodoo & are perfectly happy, and we love them). we are a nation of laws, not of religions -- at least not in the public sector.

    what's important is for religious people to understand that have one version of god in our laws is a two-edged sword. do they want the state to turn around and restrict their religious practice? they had better be smart about this and extricate their religion from that level of participation in govt. for christians, the admonition is clear: do not be of this world. weaving belief into civil laws is a foolish thing for any religion to do.

  • Calling BS on Red Herring arguments (unverified)

    Everyone, straight or gay, should have a legally-binding medical power of attorney, not some other half-assed partnership form, in place RIGHT NOW that directs who makes your medical care decisions if you are incapacitated and that you are requesting they be present with you whenever they chose. It costs very little these days. If you have a normal IQ you can round up the form and execute it yourself in front of notary for less than the cost of a marriage license.

    This is something every intelligent person I know understands as a matter of course. It is simply not an issue whether someone wants someone who is not an immediate family under whatever stupid laws are in place has the authority to be present and make decisions for them.

    Get several copies made, keep one in a safe place the person you've chosen knows about, and reach an understanding with them they will file a copy with the medical institution as soon as you are admitted. If an emergency comes up and you don't happen to have the form for someone who designated you as their decision maker with you, let the institution know they are going to have hell to pay if they don't shut up and get the hell out of your way if they try to deny you access until you can get the form to them. If some idiot still gives you trouble as allegedly happened in this story, hire an attorney to warn them you will file suit unless they apologize in writing and immediately rectify the situation --- and follow through if they don't. No institution wants their liability insurance rates raised, and legitimate lawsuits against their practices they don't need.

    (Of course, you also need to also get on the back of lying Democrats and Republicans in the Oregon Legislature and US Congress who dishonestly use the crisis of out-of-control costs in medical system they have broken to force tort reform and deny us our rightful day in court. Despite their claims, there simply is no credible data out there that genuinely supports their argument.)

    As LT notes, of course you'll run into stupid medical providers on a case-by-case bases, but almost everyone will also end up having some kind of serious care problem with a poor excuse for a provider and human being like that. I have learned that from plenty of personal experience with the medical system. These days, I pretty much assume when I'll be involved in the care of someone with a serious medical condition that I'll need to hire a lawyer to write intimidating letters to the insurance companies and the medical providers. Never spent more then $300-$400 dollars, and I figure that is far less than the real expenses I would have occurred running around wasting huge amounts of time, on other diversions to relieve the stress, and in lost benefits for myself or the person I'm helping.

    I often tell people the best way to create a single-payer advocate, unfortunately, is to wait until they have someone in their family experience a serious medical crisis. Once we get rid of the blood-sucking insurance companies we can focus on building fair but stern regulatory systems for medical care providers that are genuinely in the best interest of patients, doctors, and nurses.

    So grow up and recognize that this is the reality of the adult world. As soon as someone tries to use this in the marriage debate, I know they have nothing of value to contribute to the argument over our f'ed-up medical care system or the argument over our equally f'ed-up marriage laws.

  • This is a pathetic Red Herring (unverified)

    Thomas Wheatley, this is a question for you if you are a representative BRO as your comment seems to apply. Are you doing pro-active advising to people, now perhaps using this very case, to get medical power-of-attorney directives? Are you working with people who are intelligent to have such directives in place and ran into a problem to bring legal action? Or is the extent of your work (as a rep of BRO) how stories like this can be used as a tactic in the marriage debate?

    That's a fair question because some of us support full gay marriage (or in my case gender-blind civil unions or civil marriages for everyone). but we recognize dumb or misleading arguments frequently don't help the cause. The paramount concern in a critical medical care situation should be what we have to do to make sure the patient's wishes of any type are fulfilled, and how we make sure that happens under our screwed up system as it stands right now.

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    we need to eliminate religious marriage from the civil process.

    That's it in a nutshell. As far as the state is concerned, it's a contract about shared economics and some joint rights and obligations. Whatever dance you want to do for your sky gods and earth spirits is your own business; continue to discriminate who shares your wine if you feel you must.

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    All of you making the point of eliminating marriage, it's heard. But this isn't the state or country we live in at this point. We live somewhere that marriage is what qualifies for respect and with that we need to ensure this right is given to all of our GLBT brothers and sisters. We need to harness the power to move towards marriage equality.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)

    "weaving belief into civil laws is a foolish thing for any religion to do."

    Which is why we have that well known phrase "separation of church and state". The founding fathers knew what they were doing.

  • LiberalIncarnate (unverified)

    I would prefer full Marriage Equality over domestic partnerships or civil unions any day. However, correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't the Domestic Partnership Law in Oregon confer the right for a spouse to be with his/ her other spouse in the hospital and to make important decisions?

    If so, at the very least, the nurse in question should be reprimanded. Her ignorance or lack of support of gay rights is no excuse for the law.

  • jonnie (unverified)

    Red Herring: Everyone, straight or gay, should have a legally-binding medical power of attorney

    me: You forgot to add in singles (18+) as well. Every person should have a medical power of attorney even if they aren't in a relationship.

    Karol: marriage is what qualifies for respect

    Me: No it doesn't. I have friends in Europe who think marriage is a thing of the past. Instead they just get a just a medical power of attorney. Some with kids, some without.

    If it's really about respect and not equal protection (see medical power of attorney), then it'll never happen. Most family members don't respect each other and you can't legislate someone to respect another person.

    Are you saying that if Golden Hawn and Kurt Russell got married then BO would respect them more?

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    Jonnie, marriage equals respect in the eyes of the law. Goldie and Kurt are famous; no one is going to deny them. But two anon. men were denied access to one another in an emergency and it will happen to other GLBT couples again. Marriage is the law of the land of America. While the greater arguement against marriage exists, equality IN marriage needs to happen immediately.

    Europe is a continent, America is a county; the comparison isn't fair and we need to quit making it so. I'm guessing in Slovakia, there isn't the same opinion on marriage as there is in France.

  • Thomas Wheatley (unverified)

    LiberalIncarnate is correct: The Oregon Family Fairness Act (HB2007), which created domestic partnerships in Oregon, does grant registered Oregon domestic partnerships the legal authority to visit their partner in the hospital and make medical decisions for their partner as needed.

    Although it's critical to remember that these rights end at the state border. Domestic partners who leave the state for vacation or any other reason will most likely be treated as strangers under the eyes of the law.

    The OHSU case is an example of an employee who did not understand the law, despite the fact that OHSU provides staff trainings on this.

    <h2>This case also demonstrates that domestic partnerships do not carry the same legal certainty as marriages - something that all families need in times of crisis.</h2>

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