Nevada’s domestic partnership law provides for rights and responsibilities that are similar, but not identical, to marriage. Among these are hospital visitation rights and the ability to make healthcare decisions for one’s spouse if they’re unable. But that wasn’t good enough for Spring Valley Hospital. When Terri-Ann Simonelli asked if she would be able to make decisions on behalf of her partner Brittany Leon, who was experiencing complications with her pregnancy, if she were incapacitated, they were told a domestic partnership wasn’t enough:
But that’s not what happened, they said. An admissions officer told them the hospital policy required gay partners to secure power of attorney before making any medical decisions for each other.
They protested, even offering to go home and return with their domestic partnership document. But they said the admissions officer told them that didn’t matter – Simonelli would need a power of attorney.
Leon later lost the pregnancy. The hospital still isn’t budging:
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.
This is why civil unions, domestic partnerships, reciprocal beneficiaries and all other recently-invented “marriage alternatives” for same-sex couples are simply inadequate. Most people are completely unfamiliar with what these new legal devices actually mean in a practical sense, whereas the properties and implications of a marriage are firmly established and widely recognized. They know what a marriage is, but they don’t know what a “domestic partnership” is. As long as certain classes of people are barred from marriage and instead offered these weak substitutes, their relationships will never be seen as equal. No one can honestly believe that the rest of the world will treat these loving commitments as they would treat marriages – even the government couldn’t bring itself to treat them as marriages.