Monday, January 11, 2010

Great Idea of the Week Award Goes To....

....Indiana State Senator Sue Errington (D-Delaware County), who introduced Senate Bill 192, which states that a hospital cannot deny visitation to a "domestic partner" of someone hospitalized.

This extremely well-craft bill sets forth reasonable visitation restrictions that hospitals may impose unrelated to who the visitor is, and it further takes into account an individual patient's medical needs.

What it doesn't do is make reference to sexual orientation. In other words, unmarried heterosexual couples (of which there are a growing number) need not fear being denied visitation with the person they may love most in the world because vindictive family wants to draw an iron veil over them as they gasp their last breath.

Of course, because gay couples will benefit, too, do not be surprised if anti-gay opponents attack this bill under the guise of needing to keep marriage sacred, a curious notion given that the most virulent anti-gay tacticians fail to keep their own marriages sacred (see Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove).

Respectfully, while I try not to let emotion force me to rhetorical excess, I have to question the humanity of people who oppose this bill, in particular, as it pertains to gays and lesbians. Imagine having parents who repudiated everything about you during your life. When you're on your deathbed, they can ride in and take away possibly the most comforting thing that could happen in your final hours?

My hope is that even Hoosiers who object to gay marriage will recognize the broader scope of this bill to include heterosexuals and the compassion found in letting a person about to take their last breath see a person who, in life, they loved most.

Here's how you can help. Find your state senator and let him or her know you support SB 192. Also, most bills die for want of committee action. The Chair of the Health & Provider Services Committee, where this bill is assigned, is Republican Ryan Mishler. Start by e-mailing him and telling him to set a hearing for SB 192! Then email other committee members who might be sympathetic as well and ask for their support and a hearing: Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville), Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso), Beverly Gard (R-Greenfield), Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis), Earline Rogers (D-Gary), and Vi Simpson (D-Elletsville).

Finally, e-mail Sue Errington and thank her for introducing this bill. Good job, Senator!



Kyle Hurtley said...

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I just sent a message to my Senator. BTW, the link you have to search for your Senator doesn't work.

varangianguard said...

It's a sad day that this has to be addressed via a law.

While this is a start, a more comprehensive codification of the rights of long-term companion/significant others is long overdue.

Blog Admin said...

Good post. I'll make sure to put a few words into my reps about this.

Anonymous said...

So, hospital personnel are supposed to know the status of someone's relationship? So, in an emergency situation, with no input from the patient, some clown can walk in an indicate that they have the right to see someone.

There is a good reason why there are limitations to visitation. This bill is ill-conceived and inappropriate.

Chris Worden said...

Khurt 21: Thanks for letting me know about the defective link. I've repaired it.

Anon 8:43: Be sure you read the bill before you comment. Hospital personnel isn't supposed to know, which is why there are ways it can be proven, but as an aside, is there a rash of hospital crashing that I'm not aware of?!? I've heard of wedding crashing, but I don't know of any people who crash hospitals to see people with whom they don't have relationships.

Anonymous said...

My wife has numerous hospitalizations. Often times I had to check her in as she was unable. Should be no problem with me visiting, getting status updates, being in the room with her when I visit, right? except for the fact that I am also a woman. (Married in a United Christ Church in Iowa).
So I have had to carry papers, etc, with me. And yes, I could be denied visiting and have been. I could lie and say i am her sister, but we have been together 18 years and I needn't lie.
This bill is necessary.

Unknown said...

You think it's acceptable to deny visitation because someone is only a "Domestic Partner"? How ARROGANT ARE YOU f*cking straight people? This ISN'T about GAY MARRIAGE?!?! How can you deny the right a loved one has to say their final words but find it acceptable to allow one's Girl/Boy-Friend the right?! You straights SICKEN ME! I won't rest until GAY MARRIAGE IS LEGAL And you are FORCED TO WATCH

Chris Worden said...

Anon 12:16: Please e-mail me at