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For couples challenging Ind., Wis., marriage bans, the fight is about fairness

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
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Judi Trampf (left) and Katy Heyning

Judi Trampf (left) and Katy Heyning

During their 25 years together, Madison, Wisconsin, residents Katy Heyning and Judi Trampf prepared health care powers of attorney that gave each of them the ability to make medical decisions for the other. But they didn’t take the documents when they traveled in 2002 to New Orleans.

Heyning was there attending a conference, and Trampf joined her when it ended. The day after she arrived, Heyning suffered a seizure in their hotel room.

Trampf called 911. When their ambulance arrived at the hospital, personnel asked Trampf what sort of relationship she had with Heyning.

When she told them she was Heyning’s domestic partner, they demanded to see the powers-of-attorney documents and told her that unless she had them in-hand, she wouldn’t be allowed to make any decisions for Heyning.

That left Heyning’s brother in charge as her next-of-kin. Heyning eventually regained consciousness but had trouble responding to questions. Trampf tried to answer for her, but hospital staff ignored her.

The couple later scanned their documents into their smartphones so they’ll always have them with them. But Trampf said it’s not fair.

“There was no standing in this medical center’s mind legally who I was unless I had paper,” she said. “That’s when we started to realize, ‘My God, we have to have all this paper on us that others don’t just in case something happens.”

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