Monday, April 19, 2010

great news for the LGBT community

I can't believe I only saw this three days late: Obama is requiring all hospitals that accept medicare and medicaid funds to allow patients to specify who may visit them with equal rights as family members. Ie, gay and lesbian partners can no longer be cut off. Decades too late, but still wonderful.

This is a vastly more important breakthrough in anti-gay discrimination than any silly marriage rights. I only care about marriage rights because those provide a legal shortcut to the rights that actually matter: the right to visit loved ones in the hospital and to specify who qualifies as "family" and can visit you if you're in the hospital, the right to specify who shares financial responsibility with you for tax and debt purposes, the right to specify "next of kin" relationships that kick in when emergency medical decisions need to be made or after death, etc.

There's no reason for government to be involved in marriage at all. And there's no reason to limit people's choices of surrogate decision makers in any particular situation, (ideally in each individual situation, rather than unilaterally.) But the latter is no where near a reality, and if legal gay marriage allows a unilateral decision of that kind, that is much much much much better than nothing.