Indiana hospital defies federal law and bars woman from seeing same sex partner

By David Edwards
Thursday, November 14, 2013 15:21 EDT
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Sarah Bray prevented from seeing same sex partner (WXIN)
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LGBT rights advocates say that a hospital in Indiana is violating federal law by preventing a woman from visiting her unconscious same sex partner.

Sarah Bray, 34, told WXIN that she hasn’t been able to see her partner, 28-year-old Jennifer Clemmer, since she was found unconscious Wednesday morning from a suspected prescription drug overdose.

According to The Indianapolis Star, Bray was allowed visitation until Clemmer’s mother arrived at Franciscan St. Francis Health-Indianapolis and demanded that she leave.

Bray said that security told her that she was not even allowed to enter the intensive care unit because she had threatened legal action against the hospital.

“It’s just gut-wrenching because I’m afraid I’m going to get a phone call in the middle of the night and she’s gone,” Bray explained to WXIN. “We got in there, and [the hospital] had already put her family in the room. I’ve seen her maybe an hour and half all day.”

“We are in a partnership. It’s heart-wrenching. If I were a man and this were my wife, there would be no issue,” she pointed out. “To know that she’s just beyond a set of doors and I’m stuck outside; they’re not acknowledging our rights.”

Bray was in the process of legally adopting Clemmer’s son. And the couple had plans to get married in Iowa later this month.

President Barack Obama signed a memorandum in 2010 requiring hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding to grant visitation rights to same sex partners — even in states like Indiana where same sex marriage is illegal.

“This is a clear violation of LGBT hospital visitation rights,” GetEqual Indiana spokesperson David Stevens told The Indianapolis Star.

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Professor Jennifer Drobac agreed that a “hospital barring a same-sex partner in specifically a hospital that receives Medicare and Medicaid funding, which most hospitals do, is not in compliance with federal law.”

“This shouldn’t be happening,” she insisted to WXIN.

But Bray said she worried that she may not win the fight before it’s too late.

“We all deserve equal rights. It doesn’t matter who we love. Love is love,” she observed. “The next time I see her could be at her funeral — one I might not have any say in because of what I’m fighting against.”

Watch this video from WXIN, broadcast Nov. 14, 2013.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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