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Well, President Obama recently made good on a promise to the LGBT community. Did he repeal D.A.D.T.? No. Did he repeal D.O.M.A.? No. What did he do?

He ordered hospital visitation rights for gay and lesbian couples. When did he pledge to grant this “right”? Well, it may have been more than one instance, but I remember it from Brian Williams’ interview with Obama on NBC tonight “Inside the White House.” That was the interview where the President skirted around what issues he would take up for LGBT Americans and offered the carrot of being able to visit their partner in the hospital.

I’m not sure I had ever given that “right” much thought until I had seen the movie “If These Walls Could Talk 2.” Near the end of the first vignette one partner has taken her partner to the hospital. She waits quite a while–having heard no news–then asks to see her “friend.” The nurse tells her that “only family members are allowed.” She tells the nurse she is going to stay right there in the waiting room, and asks the staff to let her know if anything changes in the condition of her “friend.” I’ll let you watch the clip from the movie to see what happens the next morning.

Suffice it to say, I see the immeasurable value of being allowed to visit one’s partner in the hospital–and I am grateful our President has taken this step. However, experience has shown that this “order” alone is not enough. In Oregon when the governor made domestic partnerships law including all the “rights afforded to marriage,” gay and lesbian couples found that they still had to prove their connection when trying to see their partner at the hospital. Can you imagine any straight man and any woman going to the hospital and being asked to see the marriage license before being allowed to see the person they stated was their husband or wife?

Yes, this is an important first step the President has taken. But many more steps are still to be walked on the path toward LGBT relationship recognition and equality in America.

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