Same-sex marriage activists have built a movement to re-define ‘family’ on the premise that homosexual partners are denied rights like hospital visitation unless specifically provided by law. But is that premise true?

This is an emotional debate, but what is the truth? Family Research Council says the above premise is being exaggerated.

The idea that homosexuals are regularly denied the right to visit their partners in the hospital is one that has only one source–homosexual activists who want to change the definition of marriage. Where are the media surveys of hospital administrators to determine how many hospitals actually have such restrictive policies?

Good question. A point forcefully made requires a strong and reasoned counterpoint. This piece goest through the argument, and raises some replies not picked up by big media like the New York Times in their reporting on the particular case in Florida that moved President Obama to urge new regulations by Health and Human Services.

The hospital involved in that case issued its own letter of clarification to Obama, and it could use some light.

Ms. Langbehn’s allegations and those made by published articles, blogs, etc., are inaccurate and have damaged the reputations and deeply hurt the feelings of the personnel in our trauma center. They have devoted their careers to all who come through our doors, from all walks of life.

JHS grants hospital visitation to all individuals equally, regardless of their relationship to the patient, as long as doing so does not interfere with the care being given to the patient or other patients in the area. With that said, our first priority when a patient is brought to our trauma center is always to stabilize the patient and save their life. As the only adult and pediatric Level 1 trauma center in Miami-Dade County to support a population of more than 2.3 million people, our facility is one of the busiest – and most renowned – in the nation.

The Trauma Resuscitation Unit in Ryder Trauma Center, where Lisa Pond was treated when airlifted to Jackson, is more like a large operating room with multiple beds separated by glass partitions rather than a traditional hospital floor. Sometimes, visitors are not able to see a loved one in the trauma bay as quickly as they would like or they may have to wait until the patient is moved to the ICU or to another area of the hospital that is better suited for visitation. This all depends on the circumstances of the situation, how busy the unit is at the time and the medical conditions of the patients in the unit at the time. The patients in this area are facing life-threatening injuries or illnesses and are extremely vulnerable.


The most important piece of information to consider from our side of this story is that the charge nurse on duty the night Ms. Pond was in our care – and the person who made all visitation access decisions that evening – is herself a lesbian with a life partner. In addition, numerous members of the medical team working in our trauma unit are openly homosexual. We can assure you that Ms. Langbehn was not treated differently because of her sexual orientation.

Now that that’s clear, what of the charges that in general, homosexual partners are usually or often denied visiting rights in hospitals? The piece points out what most of us have discovered over the past many years in visiting hospitals, and that is how relaxed their policies have become for visitation, in terms of hours, duration and identity of visitors. Unless circumstances require restricting any of those.

Is the thought of a person “dying without their loved ones at their bedside” an agonizing one? Of course. But it is an agony that is probably experienced by many people, regardless of sexual orientation or marital status, every day, for one simple reason—their beds are surrounded by doctors and nurses fighting to save their lives.

That is a point Health and Human Services and media like the New York Times would serve the public well to understand, and explain.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....