President’s Memo on Same-Sex Partner Hospital Rights Inspired by Case of Lesbian Janice Langbehn and Her Late Partner Lisa Pond

The memorandum issued by President Obama tonight was inspired by the case of Janice Langbehn, the Seattle woman whose partner Lisa Pond suffered an aneurysm on an R-Family cruise out of Miami in February 2007. Even after a power of attorney naming Langbehn was sent to Jackson Memorial Hospital, the hospital refused to allow Langbehn access to Pond, who died about 18 hours after being admitted. Langbehn was finally allowed to see Pond as a priest delivered last rites.

Langbehn The Human Rights Campaign said it had been working with the White House "for months on the request."

Langbehn said this evening on Facebook that she received a call from Obama regarding the memo, shortly before it was sent out.

Wrote Langbehn: "At 4:32PDT, President Obama called me about Lisa's tragic death and our inability to see her. The President has signed memorandum that can be found on the White House web site directly medical facility to change how they treat patients and their visitors. The President was very gracious and apologized for what we went though. I thanked him for this legacy for our children."

Last November, several nurses from the gay caucus of the union serving Jackson Memorial formally apologized to Langbehn for what she endured

Jackson Memorial this week announced it had changed its policies in a manner which seems consistent with the memorandum issued this evening:

""The hospital developed and implemented a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, a patient's bill of rights that demonstrates the hospital's commitment to providing quality care for LGBT patients, and a visitation policy that updates the definition of family to include same-sex partners and other people who may not be legally related to a patient."

Langbehn is scheduled to appear on AC360 this evening, she said.


  1. Michael @ says

    Her partner died two years before he took office: WHAT TOOK HIM 15 MONTHS??????????

    Great GESTURE but note it only directs they “INITIATE rulemaking.” At the ice-glacier speed his Administration works, hospitalized LGBTs and their loved ones won’t benefit from this for months and months…just like implementing lifting the HIV travel ban took ages even tho it was waiting on his desk when he was sworn in after Bush had already signed it, and those crumbs of benefits for the partners of gay federal employees STILL haven’t been implemented nearly a year after they announced them in the wake of the boycott of the DNC LGBT fundraiser.

    Now in the middle of the harshest criticism yet for his failure to keep his promise to PERSONALLY FIGHT for repeal of DADT… as the curtain is being ripped off of the ObamaRahm/Gates conspiracy to kill repeal by running out the clock….and days before TV screens are going to show him being met by another huge protest of screaming, angry gays when he comes to L.A. Monday to fundraiser for Barbara Boxer….comes another serving of pie in the sky. At least this one’s in POTUS-writing unlike his promises re DADT, ENDA, and DOMA.

    Per se, I don’t have any problem with someone doing the right thing for the wrong reason. And another benefit is that it’s the second time he’s shown us he knows how to use a pen with lavender ink.

    NOW, when he actually shows some courage to use that pen for something that Troglodytic Senators and Generals aren’t squealing about and entire organizations don’t exist to stop like using his legal powers to freeze discharges which he declared months ago weaken national security and which would NOT require months and months of delays like lifting the HIV travel ban, extending minor partner benefits, and simply opening hospital doors and doctors’ ears have and are, call me.

  2. peterparker says

    HRC was working with the White House “for months” on this? It’s such a small, tiny baby step that I can’t imagine why it would have taken longer than a 20 minute conversation to convince even the most conservative politician to put this in place immediately. But Obama took 15 months to make this happen?! I guess he and his administration was busy trying to get Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repealed or perhaps trying to overturn DOMA. Then again, maybe not.

    Nice step forward. Still remain unimpressed.

  3. spiderseye says

    To all those people who have to bitch and moan when anything good happens, that it should have been done sooner, have you ever been involved in even the tiniest issue requiring government approval on even the smallest scale? You have one shot to get anything done and you have to approach it carefully or you’ll be screwed. Unless you’re on the inside of the process, try and be grateful when something positive does happen. Do you think Sarah Palin would have issued this? It will change people’s lives.

  4. clint says

    Yeah, I’m just wondering what electable president you haters think would have done this sooner than Obama did. I’m waiting for an answer. If you don’t have an answer, then your motives are suspect at best, and imply hatred for hatred’s sake. Let’s hear it, who are you going to run?

  5. Marty says

    After reading the comments by the usual bitter suspects all I can say is at this point I’m not sure who we need to die off first…the old generation of homophobes or the old generation of so-called activists….same thing, different sides…

    they just don’t get it.

  6. walter says

    Wow — sometimes it makes me sad how simple most people are — then it makes me happy I am not as simple.

    Folks the issue was that THEY HAD medical power of attorney … yet because they were homosexuals the LEGAL document that was in place was not recognized by BIGOTS in the hospital.

    Those BIGOTS broke the law because they hated the two gay women.

    The end of the memo make PERFECT legal sense.

    What the President is saying is that if people have a legal document in place — hospital officials can not ignore them just because the people holding the legal documents are gay.

    Thus no NEW rights or laws are being created — he is telling the hospitals to FOLLOW THE CURRENT LAW.

    Now all of you should grow up — and if you are a same sex couple get a Power of Atty document in place – even if your state has married you.

    —- And to the idiot asking what took him 15 months …. I think he has been busy getting ALL AMERICANS including gay people Health Care Reform passed, fighting two wars, signing the Matt Shepard Anti-Hate Crime Bill into Law … and so on and so on.

    Evil Queens bore me.

  7. Michael @ says


    Between Obama’s election in November and being sworn in on January 20, various gay groups met with his transition team and presented detailed explanations of what LGBT related issues needed worked on and exactly HOW they could be done. They included NOT keeping DADT repeal opponent Gates on…ignored, of course. And he’d promised a year before that he would start PERSONALLY fighting for repeal THE DAY HE TOOK OFFICE.

    So don’t give us any fucking bullshit about “these things take time.”

  8. says

    For some, it will never be enough. And even when he’s not around anymore and we’re dealing with a President Romney or GAG Palin or some other caveperson, even then they will stubbornly say that, too, is Obama’s fault and they will say they don’t regret not voting for him because dammit he wasn’t good enough.

    I think this is a great step. It’s not the be-all end-all, but it’s good stuff and we should be happy to have it. Completely satisfied with our hand down on our pants on the couch watching TV? No. But happy? Yes.

  9. Luther says

    Why is it bitchy or “evil” to expect faster progress toward equality in the 21st century? Obama’s lagging on DADT repeal. His DOJ’s DADT briefs are appalling. He’s lagging on ENDA. He’s done nothing on DOMA. And we get all giddy over this timid half measure? Instead of acting as a “fierce advocate” for equality, Obama expects our support because he’s marginally improving the quality of the water at our segregated fountain.

  10. Marty says

    “various gay groups met with his transition team and presented detailed explanations of what LGBT related issues needed worked on and exactly HOW they could be done”

    well why didn’t you SAY SO…

    did they also offer tips on how to solve the economic crisis? y’know, since they had it all figured out…(rolling eyes)

  11. Xman says

    Seems to me that everyone wants obama to keep promises that he never made and ignores the ones he kept. he never promised to fix the Bush/Cheney/republican destruciton of our economy in just a few months. He never promised that everyone could sit back and let him do all the work. he never promised that all you had to do was vote for him and then go back home and wait for things to happen, and no matter how hard I look through his historical campaign footage I dont see any where: where he said that he will personally sign an executive order over turning DADT AND DOMA. AT least he’s doing something, if we had MCSHAME in office we’d still be eating FREEDOM FRIES and waiting for 2012. He’s done more than McShame or Bush has done for the GLBT. Bad enough that he’s got the F’n TEA BAGGERS panties in a bunch along with every other political bible thumping conservative. cut the man some slack he’s moving as fast has he can with out the right getting in the way.
    Mid Terms are coming up and if these tea baggers yes I mean it in the porn sense; TEA BAGGERS are as power hungry as they are get control of the house or even the senate were all screwed. So think twice before we pull a MCCAIN and stay home an pout because he’s not moving fast enough.

  12. Michael @ says

    All these assertions about how much time things take, how distracted he was by the economy, etc. …Ye Olde Plate Too Full Excuse…fail to remember, still fail to explain…why he couldn’t take a pen and a piece of paper and use the power Congress gave the President to freeze discharges in between appearing on ABC Evening News with a magic marker and a flip chart to fill in his predictions for various teams in the NCAA basketball tourney and kicking off the White House Easter Egg Roll.

    Last June, he said it was URGENT to end the discharges that WEAKEN national security.

    We…and the gay servicemembers he keeps shit canning day after day after day are still waiting 10 months later.

    ‘Splain Lucy!

    [And if the Queen Bitch of the ObamaRahm Borg is slithering by, reading to ejaculate your typical phony response: NO, you have no more evidence that a freeze would delay repeal any more than stopping executions would delay overturning the death penalty.]

  13. David says

    Why are you Queens settling for scraps when we deserve our right now? I can’t believe why most of commenting continue to make excuses for this man. Pathetic queens!!!!

  14. Chris says

    To all of you that hate Obama and keep spewing stupidity especially you Miss Michael. When you’re asses stayed silent while Bill fucked us!

    Please vote REPUBLICAN!!


    But Sarah will!

  15. says

    more empty words. And still many in our community dutifully bark and clap just like the trained seals they are. Absolutely pathetic. If Obama had a clue about LBGT issues maybe he would be more horrified to know that a gay or lesbian parent would be denied access to a sick or dying child because they aren’t recognized as a real parent. Of course all of these issues would be moot if Obama kept his promise to push for the repeal of DOMA. Furthermore, it illustrates the craven lies this administration and its allies tell our community. When it comes to DADT, we were told Obama would be overstepping his authority by issuing an executive order. That the congress was responsible for making policy. Yet those same sycophants are cheering this worthless attempt to hoodwink our community as bold and corageous. It is shameful. And it is shameful that the gay media laps it up so eagerly.

  16. Gregoire says

    God why do I read these comments? Not enough, Obama, you had 15 months to change the fabric of reality in America and you failed!

    Honestly, I want some of you never-satisfied bitchy queens to spend ONE FUCKING DAY at a Tea Party convention to get some idea of the forces against us. And then to pick your battles from there.

    Even this small gesture would never, EVER have happened under any other president.

  17. says

    This is a great step forward. And it effects every LGBT person in the land- esp those who live in the south- where discrimination is so prevalent.

    To those who say, why did it take so long- b/c it is the government- nothing ever moves quickly- and you have to get the input of 15 different agencies- before finalizing something.

    I’m quite impressed.

  18. Donald says

    So let me get this straight, it took 1 year, 4 months, and months of work by HRC to get our “fierce advocate” to sign a memo? A memo? A memo that didn’t require his signature? Wow.

  19. castaway says

    So now at hospitals we can drink from the same drinking fountain as everyone else. This is another big step people. It almost makes you feel human, doesn’t it?

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