昨天星期五可以說是美國的同志期盼了很久在平權上的重要日子: 歐巴馬總統簽署Memo要求醫院給予同志配偶探視權跟法律上的代理權。

 

長久以來,因為美國法律上不承認同志婚姻,在沒有血親以及婚姻關係下,不但讓同志配偶無法享受一些如在保險.退休金福利等的權益,很多在一起一輩子的同志,最後卻因為這樣而甚至連在醫院見配偶最後一面的機會都沒有。

 

以下便為CNN的(未出櫃同志)人氣主播Anderson Cooper訪問女同志Janice Langbehn的影片: [註: Janice的伴侶Lisa Pond在臨死前於佛州的Jackson Memorial Hospital拒絕讓Janice以及他們領養的小孩前往探視,院方告知"家屬"說:你們在反同志反的很厲害的州居住,我們無能為力(意指:是你們自己的錯要住在這裡的)。並在Lisa死後三年內拒絕為他們的言行向"家屬"道歉。]

 

 

老實說我覺得同志一直以來受到的歧視跟不平等權利當然是相當可憐,不過我們過去一直要求婚姻權等同志運動的方向跟角度(或腳步)也或許在某個方面來說是個我們自己蒙照在霧裡所以看不清楚想不透的錯誤。當然要求婚姻承認後續這些附帶的東西似乎都可以一個一個的跟著承認或成立,但尤其在美國有著中西部這樣強烈保守社會風氣下的國家裡,如歐巴馬這樣繞道而行的方式其實可能才是更聰明的方法。

畢竟如影片訪問中Janice所說得,這其實是一個人權,而不是同志權益。任何人都該有自己的意志去決定誰當自己的代理人,而這些跟血親等天生下來決定的其實不一定要有什麼關係。(尤其在美國,有多少人是跟自己的家人只有三節才見上一面的呢?)

 

而由這個切入點下,而不去直接硬碰硬的要去跟死腦筋的聖經派講婚姻不是一個男人與女人才有(或才能有)的權益,自然受到的阻力將要小的多。而一個步驟一個步驟下,社會風氣跟影響自然慢慢打開(當然不是說馬上),也等到社會國家認為其實根本沒有什麼了不起或沒有什麼不同了的時候,再去做最後一道破門動作順理成章的提那婚姻權,豈不是更聰明的"同志運動"呢?

偉哉歐巴馬,尤其剛好在歐盟裡的義大利最高法院才剛reject整個同志婚姻法的提案的時候,一個簡單的memo,或許從此將改變美國同志運動的腳步跟里程。天知道,也許美國還將比在有教宗所在地的義大利還要更早承認同志婚姻呢!

 

這裡是Obama的Memorandum全文:

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

SUBJECT: Respecting the Rights of Hospital Patients to Receive Visitors and to Designate Surrogate Decision Makers for Medical Emergencies

Obama2  There are few moments in our lives that call for greater compassion and companionship than when a loved one is admitted to the hospital. In these hours of need and moments of pain and anxiety, all of us would hope to have a hand to hold, a shoulder on which to lean -- a loved one to be there for us, as we would be there for them.

Yet every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides -- whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay. Often, a widow or widower with no children is denied the support and comfort of a good friend. Members of religious orders are sometimes unable to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf. Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives -- unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.

For all of these Americans, the failure to have their wishes respected concerning who may visit them or make medical decisions on their behalf has real consequences. It means that doctors and nurses do not always have the best information about patients' medications and medical histories and that friends and certain family members are unable to serve as intermediaries to help communicate patients' needs. It means that a stressful and at times terrifying experience for patients is senselessly compounded by indignity and unfairness. And it means that all too often, people are made to suffer or even to pass away alone, denied the comfort of companionship in their final moments while a loved one is left worrying and pacing down the hall.

Many States have taken steps to try to put an end to these problems. North Carolina recently amended its Patients' Bill of Rights to give each patient "the right to designate visitors who shall receive the same visitation privileges as the patient's immediate family members, regardless of whether the visitors are legally related to the patient" -- a right that applies in every hospital in the State. Delaware, Nebraska, and Minnesota have adopted similar laws.

My Administration can expand on these important steps to ensure that patients can receive compassionate care and equal treatment during their hospital stays. By this memorandum, I request that you take the following steps:

1. Initiate appropriate rulemaking, pursuant to your authority under 42 U.S.C. 1395x and other relevant provisions of law, to ensure that hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid respect the rights of patients to designate visitors. It should be made clear that designated visitors, including individuals designated by legally valid advance directives (such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies), should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy. You should also provide that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The rulemaking should take into account the need for hospitals to restrict visitation in medically appropriate circumstances as well as the clinical decisions that medical professionals make about a patient's care or treatment.

2. Ensure that all hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid are in full compliance with regulations, codified at 42 CFR 482.13 and 42 CFR 489.102(a), promulgated to guarantee that all patients' advance directives, such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies, are respected, and that patients' representatives otherwise have the right to make informed decisions regarding patients' care. Additionally, I request that you issue new guidelines, pursuant to your authority under 42 U.S.C. 1395cc and other relevant provisions of law, and provide technical assistance on how hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid can best comply with the regulations and take any additional appropriate measures to fully enforce the regulations.

3. Provide additional recommendations to me, within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, on actions the Department of Health and Human Services can take to address hospital visitation, medical decisionmaking, or other health care issues that affect LGBT patients and their families. This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

You are hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

BARACK OBAMA

 

[後註] 這件事剛好發表在美國保守黨2012年可能推派出來的參選人Huckabee發表"同志領養小孩有如領養狗",以及"開放/承認同志婚姻有如開放毒品/承認兄妹近親結婚或多夫多妻制"的言論的同一週,美國兩黨的立場格外的鮮明。

至此,如果你仍有朋友是closeted gay republican,或是因為一點稅務上經濟上的小私小利願意犧牲自我更大利益而支持republican的同志朋友,請給他們個evil eye!!

Here is Huckabee on gay marriage and adoption:

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    哇塞,這邊又開始活動了。:)