Apr 21, 2010
For the sake of those readers who think this issue is irrelevant, or giving gays and lesbians special rights, or just some socialist way to tyrannize religious hospitals, consider the case of Clay and his partner, Harold:
Clay and his partner of 20 years, Harold, lived in California. Clay and Harold made diligent efforts to protect their legal rights, and had their legal paperwork in place—wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives, all naming each other. Harold was 88 years old and in frail medical condition, but still living at home with Clay, 77, who was in good health.
One evening, Harold fell down the front steps of their home and was taken to the hospital. Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold’s care from the first moment. Tragically, county and health care workers instead refused to allow Clay to see Harold in the hospital. The county then ultimately went one step further by isolating the couple from each other, placing the men in separate nursing homes.
Ignoring Clay’s significant role in Harold’s life, the county continued to treat Harold like he had no family and went to court seeking the power to make financial decisions on his behalf. Outrageously, the county represented to the judge that Clay was merely Harold’s “roommate.” The court denied their efforts, but did grant the county limited access to one of Harold’s bank accounts to pay for his care.
What happened next is even more chilling: without authority, without determining the value of Clay and Harold’s possessions accumulated over the course of their 20 years together or making any effort to determine which items belonged to whom, the county took everything Harold and Clay owned and auctioned off all of their belongings. Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will. The county workers then terminated Clay and Harold's lease and surrendered the home they had shared for many years to the landlord.
This happened in California, not Hicksburg, Mississippi or Baptists' Perch, North Carolina, and to a couple who had beforehand done everything possible under the law to protect their mutual interests in exactly such an eventuality. Younger couples have had to deal with estranged parents reappearing to keep them apart when one is in the hospital, but the NCLR summary indicates that none of Harold's relatives intervened to enforce their antigay religious convictions on the couple; I assume that at Harold's age, his parents' approval of his lifestyle was a moot point.
Yesterday, I challenged readers to figure out who the standing nurse was patterned after. She's an amalgamation of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (who recently spoke out against allowing same-sex couples to adopt on the grounds that children are not puppies, and has likened homosexuality to drug use and incest) and Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Since Nurse Ratched wore an old-fashioned nurse cap in the film, that's how I drew her. And since she had to wear one, so, it followed, should any other nurse in this hospital.
As troublesome as those old-fashioned nurse caps are to my husband -- a nurse -- what offended him even more was that neither nurse appears to be busy. So the next time I draw a nurse discussing politics (or sex, or Ricky Martin, or whatever), he or she will simultaneously be lifting a 350-lb. patient out of bed, stopping a bleeder, and administering CPR. Without any old-fashioned cap.