Nevada Same-Sex Couple Denied Hospital Visitation Despite Domestic Partnership

Written by Zack Ford

A same-sex couple in Nevada is raising awareness about the inequality couples experience without marriage after Spring Valley Hospital refused to recognize their relationship. Brittney Leon and Terri-Ann Simonelli have a domestic partnership, which under Nevada state law grants couples all the same rights as married couples. When Leon checked into the hospital last month because of complications in her pregnancy, the admissions officer told Simonelli she would have to secure power of attorney to be with her partner.

Leon ended up losing her baby, and Simonelli had to rely on the doctor for updates, spending long stretches of time without news on her partnerís condition and the fate of her family. This was despite the fact that the hospital had no hesitations about accepting Leonís insurance, which is provided through Simonelliís job. The Las Vegas Review-Journal attempted to get a comment from the hospital about the incident:

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 Nevadaís domestic partnership law, she accused the reporter of bias and hung up the telephone.

Over two years ago, President Obama ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a rule that would prevent hospitals from denying visitation privileges to the partners of gays and lesbians. Itís unclear whether the power-of-attorney requirement violates that memorandum ó though it obviously discriminates against same-sex couples†ó†or whether it is indicative of how little authority the new rule has.

Leon and Simonelli have decided not to file a complaint, but their story is an important reminder of how same-sex couples are treated as second-class citizens. Even though they hypothetically have all of the same rights under the stateís domestic partnership law, they were still treated in an incredibly crass way in a time of emergency and heightened emotional stress.

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.


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Gina W.
Gina W.2 years ago

What happened to Brittney and Terri-Ann is so fundamentally wrong. I look forward to the day when same-sex couples everywhere are afforded the same rights as my husband and I are.

Malinda Hodge
Malinda Hodge2 years ago

Of course your loving animal is hurting and just waiting to see you. It will improve the patients recovery time.

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola3 years ago

Very interesting!

Huber F.
Huber F.3 years ago

were they told to visit one at a time?

Angela Burrow
Angela Burrow3 years ago

This is appalling and incredibly heart-breaking. I cannot imagine what it is like to lose a child, as I have none and never will be able to, but I know that when things are going wrong or I am in pain I turn straight to my partner, who will be my wife as soon as marriage is legal for LGBTQs in the UK (at the moment, we only have civil partnerships). The hospital have acted in a very cold and callous manner, and I wish we could do more than simply sign petitions.

Brittney and Terri-Ann, I send you my deepest sympathies for the loss of your baby. Having read the article, you seem to be strong together, and hopefully your loss will only bring you closer together.

Angela N.
Angela N.3 years ago


Mitchell D.
Mitchell D.3 years ago

I can understand the wish to not file a complaint, but at the same time I wonder whether or not someone could stand outside the hospital with a big sign that says "GROW UP, ALREADY!!"

marc horton
marc horton3 years ago

that hospital better start following the law, i am sorry for those woman to have the extra bullshit in their time of need and compassion.

Patricia H.
Patricia H.3 years ago

this is the year 2012