UCC leaders applaud presidential order on patient visitation
Written by Gregg Brekke
April 16, 2010

UCC leaders have issued a statement following President Obama's order requiring hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid to allow patients to designate visitors and respect durable power of attorney directives.

General Minister and President the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, the Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, executive in the UCC's Office for Health and Wholeness Advocacy, and Sandy Sorenson, director of the UCC's Washington D.C. Office, issued the joint statement Friday afternoon, April 16.

Citing proclamations of the UCC's General Synod, the leaders expressed solidarity with today's announcement while encouraging continued work for anti-discrimination policies that include LGBT persons.

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On this day when the United Church of Christ launches a new internet ad campaign highlighting the church's witness to compassion, justice and inclusivity, we applaud President Obama's executive order to hospitals receiving Medicare or Medicaid to let patients decide who can be on the visitation list and to respect patient's durable power of attorney directives.

This directive opens the hospital visitation doors for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people so that they may have their loved ones present with them and involved, especially at life's most profound and critical moments. We stand in support of the President's courageous and compassionate decision affirming the rights and dignity of all Americans.
 
There are countless heart-wrenching stories in the United Church of Christ in which our same gender loving members have been denied hospital visitation, denied information about the condition and care of a life partner, and whose durable power of attorney documents have been disrespected. Persons have died alone while anguished loved-ones have been kept away.

With this order, President Obama has removed this barrier from the vast majority of the nation's hospitals. The President's decision to let all patients decide who can visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf will bring an end to the pain and anguish so often suffered by same gender loving families in what are already difficult and stressful medical situations.
 
As important as President Obama's executive order is, the work for full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons must continue.

The General Synod of the UCC has called on the President and Congress to enact legislation to end LGBT related discrimination in the workplace, open military service to LGBT persons, repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and create marriage equality for all. We encourage the President to continue to work on these issues and applaud the important step of yesterday's executive order concerning hospital visitation and medical decisions.

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