Janice Langbehn: Emblem For the Gay Second-Class

Together 18 years. That should mean something. But when it came to Janice Langbehn pleading with Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Trauma Center staff to let her see her partner Lisa-Marie Pond, who collapsed from a brain aneurysm suddenly in 2007 after boarding a cruise-ship, Langbehn was denied access, even when she received the proper documentation (within just 30 minutes of arriving at the hospital) called a life-care proxy allowing her to make medical and end-of-life decisions on Pond’s behalf.

Eight hours passed. Eight long, torturous hours where Langbehn was consistently denied information. Then, finally, access was granted. Too little, too late though, as by this time Pond had descended into a coma from which she never regained consciousness.

The four children that the couple had adopted were also denied access to their mother.

Same-sex marriage in Florida is banned, and just a few months ago, voters approved the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment, to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Conservatives say it’s needed to protect families-

-but where was the protection, the basic rights, in fact, for this family?

Two years have passed, and with the help of Lambda Legal Janice Langbehn is bringing a Federal case against the hospital to begin within the next few weeks according to a recent New York Times article. Her lawyers argue, “This is not just about same-sex couples… this is about protecting the legal access that a parent has to see a child, or an essential loved ones right to be aware of what is going on with their loved one.”- The words of attorney Donald Hayden as he told the court why it was necessary that this case should be tried.

Janice Langbehn will not be seeking monetary compensation according to Lambda Legal.

The bitter truth of the case, however, is that the Jackson Memorial Hospital (pictured) staff were legally, technically – and it’s a technicality that burns to even think about – right. They were right. Families built around gay people, to them, in the eyes of the law, are not families at all. That is why Janice Langbehn represents every gay family across America and throughout the Western world. Her struggle to overcome the second-class status enforced on LGBT’s is our struggle.

And this is why DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act (1996), needs to be repealed. U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit) reportedly commented during an interview on Saturday with the Michigan Messenger that within the House Judiciary Committee, the votes were there for such a move. The House and the Senate, well, they were a different matter, but that first step to Federally recognizing gay marriage feels tantalizingly close.

And whilst I wish Janice Langbehn success with her Federal case against the hospital, that it might send a message to all other hospitals throughout America that they, in turn, must allow the patient to “define their circle of intimacy” as Lambda Legal attorney Beth Littrell so elegantly put it, this would only be a stop-gap measure.

Repealing DOMA seems to be the only way to stop tragedies like this from happening over and over again, because the legal allowance it would give would mean, even if a gay, lesbian or transgender couple were out of state when a medical emergency hit, their union would still be recognized.

So please, sign this petition to ask President Obama to keep his promise and to repeal DOMA. The only agenda here is to allow partners that love one another the same rights as everyone else, to ensure that adopted children can see a dying parent one last time in the hospital, and that, finally, 18 years of commitment like that which existed between Janice Langbehn and Lisa Marie Pond are given the legal status that such a relationship warrants– no, correction, what such a love demands.

Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Steve Rhodes.


Rob and Jay B.
Jay S8 years ago

Bob C, have you now decency or human compassion at all?

You are always on here spewing your bigotry and prejudice campaiging against the rights of others to do what you have done - to form a legal bond of protection and rights (marriage) with the person you love and share your life with.

How can you read this story and not feel any compassion for these two committed, loving people. Their story is not uncommon. This kind of bigotry and discrimination happens every day to thousands of people. And you don't give a rat's ass do you?

You disgust me. You and your bigoted, arrogant, selfish, self-righteous ilk. It's people like you that make this world the ugly place it is. You would probably be happier in Iran, Saudi Arabia etc - your kinds of places. You'd probably push your way to the front of the crowd in the public murders of homosexuals. Well, let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Who someone else loves and marries is none of your business and has nothing to do with you. You as a white, heterosexual male have been the beneficiary of this sexist, racist and homophobic society and I wish just for one week or one day you could live as one of the "others". I'll bet you'd change your tune mighty fast then.

At least you don't claim to be a Christian, preaching hate in the name of the Prince of Peace and the God of Love.

Donny M.
Donny Mann8 years ago

Human rights shouldn't be a issue.

Nandor R.
Nandor R8 years ago

There is no guarantee that a man and a woman will be able to raise children. Only that they will be able to produce them.

I don't know about what "love demands", but I know that I was taught to not judge others, but instead respect them. I may not always agree with everything that same-sex couples demand, but I think that people who have made commitment like the one in this case should be allowed to gain the same legal recognition as "married" couples. Whether you call it "marriage" is not my place to say. Also, perhaps, the proviso for commitment should be withdrawn from my earlier statement seeing that any two idiots can get married on short-notice in Vegas - with no provision for actual commitment.

For the "inability to produce children" argument, there are a lot of traditional couples out there who are incapable of that, yet we let them marry don't we?

I think there is a distinct line that people smarter than I need to pursue in separating "marriage" as in a religious ceremony, and "spouses" from a legal standpoint.

Bob C.
Bob C8 years ago


I live on the planet Earth in San Francisco. I'm glad you admitted that you are a heterophobe however, I am not a homophobe and I resent people who are in favor of same sex marriage calling me and other people who are opposed to same sex marriage homophobes.

You can love anyone or as many people as you want. You just can't "marry" anyone or as many people as you want.

You claim that the last you heard marriage was for any two people who love each other. Where did you hear that?

My brother and I love each other but that doesn't mean we can marry each other.

I don't care if you are anyone else judges me by my mouth. I have a right to express my opinion even if you disagree with it.

I am glad that you are who you are and that you accept who you are but just remember it was your mother and your father who actually made you not your two mothers or your two fathers.

Robert Garvin
Robert Garvin8 years ago

As for the one whose partner died and the voracious relatives moved in and took everything, I have seen this done in my own in law family. My Mother in law inherited her brothers estate which was right next door to another brother. This other brother used to play the organ in church every sunday and declared he was a pious "christian". It is so sad to see how quickly this cloak comes off when money is involved. He convinced Mum that they had to reduce the value of the estate considerably or the government would take a hefty slice in Probate and so he siphoned off more than half the value of the property and then bought the house for his daughter for about less than half of its value. Great "Christian" Brother that one. This is what I talk about when I say that not everyone who says they are a "Christian" actually is a practicing Christian. It is only a cloak to cover their guilt. By the way, he also believed in Evolution and was extremely dogmatic about it when i tried to discuss it with him. He vehemently declared his position and there was no room for any further discussion.
Wonderful christian man? Oh yeah! Pigs might fly. Probably on a par with Bush and many others who spout their "christianity".

Robert Garvin
Robert Garvin8 years ago

I know many folks have NO desire to believe the Bible or to accept that it is the Word of God, but it does declare that in the last days that the world would become like it was before Noah's Flood and also as Sodom and Gomorrah where same sex marriage was the in thing. Each of the great nations of the world have gone down hill on the same slide. Accept same sex marriage as being the norm. It is not natural and it is not just Love that is the supreme thing for God because Jesus stated quite firmly "IF you Love Me, KEEP My Commandments.It is obedience too. Well, IF you don't love God then I guess you do not have to keep His Commandments, BUT, you will also have to suffer the results. Much the same as the law that states you must drive your car at only a certain speed through a town. If you keep to the ruling you are not under the penalty of the law. It is only when you break that law that it becomes an issue.

I know that we all want things OUR way and we kick against anything that does not go as we would want it but where would we be without some standard. Now it seems that certain folks want the standard changed to suit their lifestyle and they use this "discrimination" to push their cart.
I will do another article on the horrors of that poor person who had everything taken by a greedy relative.

Lindsey O.
.8 years ago

But the issue there, Robert, isn't that "friends" aren't allowed to visit certain patients. The woman in question isn't a friend. She is a spouse - only the law won't recognize that.

And if the law allowed those women to marry, there would have been no question that she had the right to access to the patient. Just as your own wife would have the same access.

Life partners of gay people don't want to be "friends". Just as you and your wife chose to legally marry - because you didn't want to remain just "friends."

Robert Garvin
Robert Garvin8 years ago

In my opinion, and its only my opinion, this idea of having to be only a legal family member to be able to be with the dying person is ridiculous. I voted that she should have been allowed to sit with her friend. I am a Christian and understand why the ruling against same sex marriage but to deny the friend and the children to be there is nothing short of criminal and is nothing short of just a power decision that is stupid to say the least. I too have been refused access to see a dying friend because I was not a close relative or immediate family. That is what needs to be changed and the same sex thing really has nothing to do with this heinous law. I was outraged but could do nothing to be close to my friend. I am a married man with a wonderful Female Wife but I was discriminated against by this stupid and NON Christian law. Why does Christianity always have to be blamed for the power hungry laws that discriminate against Homo and Hetero in much the same way? Remember, its governments that make laws and quite often those governments do things supposedly in the name of Christianity but it is only ever a false cover so Christianity will have to take the blame if it all falls in a heap. Its done by self righteous infidels using Christianity as their wooly cover of their wolf agenda. They prey on those weaker as a wolf does on the weaker sheep. I think Jesus referred to them as hypocrites. Very religious but without any love for their fellow man.

Claire Cochran
Claire Cochran8 years ago

Bob, What planet do you live on? We 'herterophobes' are not asking for your sympathy, empathy or any other athy. We just want and deserve the same rights as you have. I am gay and a Christian. My Lord Jesus Christ taught us to love one another. He didnt specify who to love or what type of person to love. You indicate that marriage is for a man and woman to procreate. Well the last I heard marriage is for 2 people who love each other to be joined legally. No, we dont need a piece of paper to belong to each other but we do need that piece of paper to give us certain rights. My Lord, made me who and what I am and I praise Him for that. Christians are supposed to lead by example.I am ashamed of all the heterosexuals in the world who claim to be a Christian 'lead' by your example. I pray for you. The Bible says "judge not, lest you be judged." You will be judged for your mouth as I will be judged for who I love. Only my Lord can judge me. Incidentally, my partner and I have been together for 13 years and for the last 4 we have not had sex. We are together because we love each other. I am much older than my partner and it stands to reason that I will pass first. I want my partner to have the benefits and rights that your 'legal' partner will have.

Bob C.
Bob C8 years ago

Dear heterophobe,

If God made homosexuals for birth control purposes he/she/it would have made them all sterile.

Fortunately, heterosexuals exist otherwise there would be no people on this planet.

No one has said or implied a homosexual relationship is all about sex but there is no doubt that it isn't about procreation.

Where have you been. Heterosexuals don't marry their spouse just for sex. In case you have forgotten an opposite sex couple can procreate as a result of sexual intercourse.

Creating and raising a family is a major part of most opposite sex marriages.

Pick up a gun and go fight the countries you claim are abusing homosexuals and women in the manner you describe.

Most "anti-gay" people don't claim to be better people than homosexuals. They just claim to be against homosexuality because of their religious beliefs.

Your anti-heterosexual and anti-religion remarks are beginning to sound a lot like hate speech!