Waiting for Gaydot

Call me cynical. While most of my queer friends are up and celebrating the new hospital visitation rules that went into effect last week, I have a slightly different perspective. Of course, I’m not exactly mourning the fact that this increases the chances that queer families will be able to have access to each other in emergencies, or that this act also protects other individuals who would like non-family visitors. But for some reason, I just don’t trust Obama to be the fierce advocate that he told us he’d be. Most of the promises that Obama made (well, the ones he made to the People, anyway) aren’t worth dick. Maybe that’s because he was so busy talking out of both sides of his mouth.
At any rate, I’m not a lawyer. I don’t know where the actual holes may or may not lie in this thing. But I do know that there’s a pattern with these things. Someone makes a brave move (or in most cases a largely symbolic show) supporting the LGB community (usually the trans community doesn’t even get these sad scraps). We turn up the Sister Sledge and throw a party. Mere days or weeks later, the Religious Right mounts a legal challenge, or the thing gets put up for a vote (because civil rights issues should always be approached through referenda), and it goes down in flames as we remember what it means to be an oppressed minority: other people get to decide what rights they think you should have. But even as we get screwed by the ineptitude of the Dems to make any of this stick, we’re expected to laud them for their efforts. As though they didn’t already owe us that, as though they were actually willing to expend any political capital on Queer issues anyway, while they rake in our donations with both fists.
So while my more forgetful Family celebrates and lauds Obama for his bravery, I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. Because I’ve got questions about this thing’s strength and staying power. No answers though, so if anyone who is legally inclined wants to volunteer some I’d be glad to have them.
A) Why a Presidential Memorandum? Why not an Executive Order? What’s the difference? My google-fu tells me that EOs can be overridden by later Presidents, by the Congress, or through the courts. How powerful do Presidential Directives end up being, then? As opposed to, say, the actual legislation that could have been pushed through with a super-majority?
B) What happens when this inevitably gets challenged for religious exemptions? Given that 1 in 6 American hospital patients is seen at a Catholic Hospital (most of which are still refusing to administer Emergency Contraception to rape victims), what will it mean if these hospitals decide they don’t like this ruling?
C) Technically, this applies to all hospitals that provide services for people on Medicaid/Medicare. I don’t understand the complex decision-making involved in running a hospital. What I do know is that apparently doctors are opting out of medicare already. This is all going to be up in the air, given the status of the new health insurance laws, but what happens if medicare/medicaid becomes too burdensome (including insisting upon equal rights for all of their patients) and entire hospitals opt out? Is that even possible? I don’t know if this will happen, but given that any pharmacist in the country can have a say in what I do with my vagina, I’m pretty sure that “God is in the Mix” on this subject as well.
D) Of course, it only becomes burdensome if there’s any enforcement of this whatsoever. What is the actual likelihood of this being monitored and enforced? What is the actual recourse available to patients who find that this isn’t happening the way it’s supposed to?
E) How does this work exactly? Because it sounds like it says that if you have an advance directive or healthcare proxy or power of attorney established in advance, now they have to actually care instead of disregarding legally binding documents. Wow, what a bold move. It also appears to establish that a patient can designate people as allowed visitors upon admission. Which is great, except that you pretty much have to be conscious and coherent in order to be able to do that. Now, I have never been hospitalized in any hospital that would deny me the visitors I chose while I was conscious and largely functional (and I’ve spent a bunch of time in the hospital), but then, I live in Seattle.
So, yes, I am wondering about what the precise limitations are. If it seems like I need a civics lesson, I probably do. I’m not from around these parts, and I’m still working my way through Congress for Dummies. What I am pretty certain of is that the man who is about to start fundraising needs the queer community behind him. Of course, if he actually cared about gay rights he could have done anything at all about gay marriage, which would actually enshrine some legal rights. But no, instead it’s time to toss us a scrap or two after sitting with his thumb up his ass for two years with a Dem majority. This “fierce advocate” who felt the need to appease homophobes on the campaign trail , again at his inauguration, and again and again while in office, is unsurprisingly losing steam among gay voters and donors. So this particular crumb we’re being thrown can only be one thing: a sign that we’re about to be screwed again.

About sandress

Also blogging on The New Agenda as Sandra, aka Sandra S.
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17 Responses to Waiting for Gaydot

  1. myiq2xu says:

    The thing that comes to my mind is enforcement.

    What are your options if a hospital violates the new policy? Can you sue? If so, who has standing – the patient or the visitor? If you can’t sue, do you have to complain to HHS and hope they do something about it? What if HHS just ignores violations?

    I don’t have any answers to those questions.

    • RalphB says:

      Can you ever sue for violation of an EO? No statute would really be involved or would it?

      It would seem the practical effects of an EO might be limited to government agencies. like HHS in this case? Hopefully HHS couldn’t or wouldn’t ignore violations.

    • OldCoastie says:

      and, of course, that is just exactly what you want to do when your loved one is desperately ill – have a fight with hospital administration…

      the EO doesn’t mean shit.

  2. crawdad says:

    Welcome to our front page.

  3. Clever title. Timely piece. Thanks Sandress.

  4. Sadly I suspect your worries are well founded. I wont be surprised to see this dismantled over the next weeks or months.

  5. Valissa says:

    Love the title!

  6. Karma says:

    I don’t trust the process or the ‘leader’ of the process either.

    Great post.

  7. kk says:

    good reading and good questions Sandress..thanks for posting and congrats on your first front page at the crawdad hole..

  8. Three Wickets says:

    Wish I knew better Sandress. I’m going to study up on the ability of private hospitals (including catholic ones) and private practitioners to skirt public regulations and guidelines re medicare coverage, repro rights, visitation rights, etc. The evidence so far with catholic hospitals refusing emergency contraception for even rape victims is not good, and Obama’s HHS still hasn’t rolled back Bush’s conscience rule on abortion and sterilization procedures. On gay rights, my uneducated guess is that Obama is done for this term as well as the next one if he gets it. DADT whether it hold or not is his concession to the community. His personal convictions or lack thereof won’t motivate him to do more.

  9. WMCB says:

    I wish I had confidence that half of the current advances for gay people were not just head-fakes.

    I’ll wait and see and hope. But it sucks that with an entire D govt I can’t be more confident than that.

  10. syl says:

    Having an advance directive and power of attorney for healthcare established in advance is a good idea regardless if one is married or not or is young or elderly. It can take the hospital off the hook if relatives try to interfere and if it ends up in court serves as a guide to your wishes.

    I have great empathy for LBGT who have worried about whether or not their partner might be kept from them at their greatest time of need.

    My soulmate and partner of 23+ years married a few months before he passed away. We married in part to help insure that his vengeful daughter wouldn’t be successful if she tried to keep me from being with him as he was dying or planning and attending his funeral.

    If Ted Olson and David Boies are successful in getting CA prop 8 ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the US, same sex marriage will probably become legal throughout this country. It would seem to follow that Federal law would then require states to recognize marriages performed in other states.

    It might be frustratingly slow but even without much support from Obama the attitude of the majority of Americans are changing and becoming more accepting of gay marriage.

  11. Erica says:

    Great post Sandress, thank-you.

    I am dismayed that many of my friends are still in love with the “fierce advocate.” It really is astounding to me. That judge practically handed him DADT on a plate and he did everything he could to avoid it. This hospital thing feels like a bone toss to me. He really is not on our side, and I hope by 2012 more LGBT are clear about that.

    • OldCoastie says:

      Obama seemed strangely energized last night now that he’s got his Republican majority in the House.

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