President Obama orders hospitals to extend medical rights to same-sex couples



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HEADLINE: Obama extends health care rights to gay partners
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CAPTION: A major victory for gay rights. President Barack Obama is ordering hospitals to extend medical rights to same-sex couples. (April 16)
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[Notes:ANCHOR VOICE]

It’s being hailed by some as a step toward fairness for same-sex couples.

President Barack Obama is ordering hospitals to extend health care rights to gay partners — essentially giving them the same status as immediate family members.

So patients now have a say in who visits them — and who can help make their medical decisions, including gay and lesbian partners.

The new rules apply to hospitals that take Medicare and Medicaid payments, which is most of them.

Gay activists call the move a critical step in ending discrimination.

SOT: Ellen Kahn, spokeswoman, Human Rights Campaign:
“This is really a way to say — we are just not going to tolerate having families torn apart in a crisis anymore. There is way too much bias and discrimination being exercised in these life and death situations.”

But groups dedicated to promoting marriage and family see this as more chipping away at the traditional definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

SOT: Peter Sprigg, Senior fellow for policy studies, Family Research Council:
“frankly I think President Obama’s memo is a solution in search of a problem. It simply is not true that same sex couples are routinely denied the right to visit each other in the hospital. That’s a rare occurrence, not a common one. Reason why this issue is being brought up is not because it’s a common occurrence but as an emotional argument in favor of the campaign for same sex marriage.”

Obama’s been under pressure from his gay and lesbian political allies for only GRADUALLY moving to end the military’s “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. And though he favors same-sex benefits and civil unions, he’s on record opposing gay marriage.

But Obama says hospital visitation rights are a matter of compassion. He says too often, gays and lesbians end up dying alone — with their loved ones “left worrying and pacing down the hall.”


supers:

1. Washington
2.Ellen Kahn, spokeswoman, Human Rights Campaign:
3.Peter Sprigg, Senior fellow for policy studies, Family Research Council:
4. Old ladies cutting cake San Francisco

MS, AP, WH

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