Hospital visits memo a good step but ‘did not grant any new rights’

Much reaction to the new hospital rules issued by the President last night. I haven’t seen an official statement from anyone at the White House — and we probably won’t. Keep in mind, anti-discrimination language was supposed to be included in the health insurance reform bill, but the LGBT provisions got stripped out:

Baldwin had sought and secured four pro-gay provisions in the original House version of health care reform, including a prohibition on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in health care.

But neither the Senate bill nor President Obama’s proposal late last month included those provisions. Baldwin had held out hope, as late as Thursday morning, that at least two of the provisions might be added back under whatever legislative package the House and Senate would eventually vote on. But by Thursday afternoon, when the text of that final package was posted on the Internet, that hope was quashed.

So, this is finally a good move by the President and partially makes up for what was lost in the health care bill. Because Obama actually took some pro-LGBT action, there’s been a lot of hyperventilating about it from the usual suspects. As always, Richard Socarides provides some perspective:

Richard Socarides, who advised President Bill Clinton on gay rights issues, said that while the memorandum on its own did not grant any new rights, it did “draw attention to the very real and tragic situations many gays and lesbians face when a partner is hospitalized.”

Ordering the Department of Health and Human Services to find a better way to handle such situations, Mr. Socarides said, is “the kind of thing the gay community was hoping Obama would do right after he was inaugurated.”

We did hope that Obama would have taken some action after the inauguration on the low-hanging fruit. And, let’s be honest, this wasn’t a heavy lift. The President didn’t expend any political capital on it. But, there are some issues coming up, including ENDA and DADT, that will require his direct engagement. He promised.

It just makes me realize how far we have to go to achieve equality when something as basic as hospital visits is treated as an earth-shattering development.

The two-page memo is here:
Hospital visitation memo http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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