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Lesbian couple denied hospital rights despite legal, domestic partnership

Sunday, August 19, 2012
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. — A lesbian couple in Nevada was told by an admissions officer at a local hospital that they would need a medical power of attorney for one partner to make decisions for another in the event of a crisis, despite being in a legal domestic partnership sanctioned by the state.

Brittney Leon was checking into the Spring Valley Hospital for complications related to her pregnancy, but during the admittance, the admissions officer informed her and her partner, Terri-Ann Simonelli, that the hospital policy required gay couples to have a medical power of attorney.

Even though the couple offered to go home and get their Nevada-issued certificate designating them as legal domestic partners, the admissions officer said that it wouldn’t matter — the policy was the policy, reported the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

In Nevada, the domestic partnership law passed in 2009 provides all the rights of married couples.

A woman who identified herself as public relations representative at Spring Valley Hospital told a Review-Journal reporter in a phone interview that the hospital policy requires gay couples have power of attorney in order to make medical decisions for each other.

When asked if she was aware of Nevada’s domestic partnership law, she accused the reporter of bias and hung up the telephone.

The domestic partnership law states: “Domestic partners have the same rights, protections and benefits, and are subject to the same responsibilities, obligations and duties under law, whether derived from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses.”

Sadly, in the addition to the stress at admissions, Leon lost her baby.

The couple said they don’t intend to file a complaint or lawsuit against Spring Valley Hospital. But they do hope their problem will lead to more awareness of the domestic partnership law and for fair treatment of gay people.

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