Although the State of Missouri refuses to recognize them, Roger Gorley and Allen Mansell of Lees Summit have been in a civil union for nearly five years. They make medical decisions for each other, and each has designated the other as power of attorney.
But when Allen got sick and Roger went to visit him at Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri this week, none of that mattered. When Roger arrived, an anti-gay member of Allen’s family asked him to leave the hospital room. Roger refused to leave his partner’s side, citing their power of attorney agreement, but the attending nurse refused to honor it. When Roger continued to assert his right to be at his partner’s bedside, Research Medical Center security staff put him in handcuffs and forcibly removed him from the building.
Watch this report from WDAF Fox 4 News, broadcast April 10:
A favorite argument of equality opponents is that marriage equality for same-sex couples is unnecessary because any two people get the same protections that marriage provides through contractual agreements. But the story of Allen and Roger — and so many other couples — blow that lie right out of the water. There’s no way Roger would have been treated that way if he was Allen’s legal spouse.
I must confess, folks, as an LGBT activist I deal with anti-gay hatred and bigotry all the time, but the hospital visitation issue touches a real nerve with me. Michael and I live in a marriage equality state and have (mostly) supportive family members, but thousands of our LGBT siblings across the country aren’t so lucky. My blood boils when I try to put myself in Roger Gorley’s shoes, because I would have reacted the exact same way he did. Pretty sure if you tried to kick me out of my husband’s hospital room, you’d have to drag me out unconscious.
The way Roger Gorley was treated is not only unconscionable and dehumanizing, it’s also a violation of a 2010 Obama administration executive order prohibiting any hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding from discriminating against same-sex partners’ hospital visitation rights. The Obama administration and the Department of Health and Human Services has an obligation to enforce its executive order by investigating this matter and levying sanctions against Research Medical Center, up to and including the removal of federal funding.
No one should be able to deny someone the right to be at their partner’s side when they’re sick. Research Medical Center tried to do so, and should be forced to pay the price.
Do you agree? Then sign this petition calling on the Obama administration to take action.