In 2007, while on vacation in Florida, Lisa Ponds suffered a fatal aneurysm. The hospital forbade her longtime spouse, Janice Langbehn, and their children, from seeing her as she lay dying. The hospital's policy, like that of most hospitals, gave preference to family over friends when it came to visitation rights. Lisa Ponds, like many gays and lesbians, was estranged from her family, and ended up dying alone while her spouse and children pleaded with hospital officials. Langbehn unsuccessfully sued the hospital.
Yesterday, President Obama issued an executive order giving expanded medical and visitation rights to gay and lesbian couples, and to the friends of singles and the elderly who either have no family or are estranged. He called Janice Langbehn after signing the order, and apologized to her personally for the hospital's actions.
It ain't marriage equality or a repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell," but it's a very big step that will help a lot of gay couples out there, including Michael and me.
Thanks Mr. President.