Many Christians OK with Hospital Visitation Rights Gay Partners

Showing compassion, or perhaps allowing others to show compassion, doesn’t contradict the Christian message, you know:

Focus on the Family Senior Vice President Tom Minnery said in a statement Friday that the Christian pro-family group supports the principle in Obama’s Presidential Memorandum regarding hospital visitation.
Likewise, several evangelical leaders voiced support for ensuring gays and lesbians access to their loved ones during times of emergency and distress.

“To have access to loved ones in all conditions of life is something evangelicals see as compassionate and just,” said Richard Cizik, president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good.

Pastor Joel Hunter of Northland, A Church Distributed in Orlando, said the directive brings “much-needed humanity” to the way patients are treated.

“As a pastor, I have witnessed the deep and heart-felt needs people experience, particularly in times of grave illness,” said Hunter. “In these moments, every person deserves the strength and support that being surrounded by loved ones brings.”

Christians OK with Gay Hospital Visitation Rights |

Joel L. Watts
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

115 thoughts on “Many Christians OK with Hospital Visitation Rights Gay Partners

  1. I’m definitely with focus-on-the-family with this one. It’s important that someone’s close friends be able to visit him/her in the hospital. Isn’t Christianity itself deeply concerned with visiting the sick?

    Two very close men ought to have visitation priviliges. And whether those loved ones happen to be committing sex acts that I would frown on isn’t a concern of the hospital. So I see my highly conservative stance on homosexuality as completely compatible gay hospital visitation rights.

  2. Not only that, they must know that when stories come out about partners not allowed into hospital rooms, it fuels marriage-rights groups.

    Of course, it would be nice if mere human decency was enough.

  3. My partner of 8 years has health problems that require (lately, at least) near-regular hospitalization. We have reciprocal durable health care powers of attorney designating us as each other’s proxy, but even with this legally-enacted instrument, I remain terrified at the thought of either the hospital or a spiteful family member keeping me away from the person with whom I’ve shared my love and life for nearly a decade.

    Because such powers of attorney are already available and executed by individuals in all manner of situations, some have asked why this order from the President is important. I ask that you imagine yourself as Clay in this story by Kate Kendell from The Bilerico Project:

    Clay and his partner of 20 years, Harold, lived in California. Clay and Harold made diligent efforts to protect their legal rights, and had their legal paperwork in place–wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives, all naming each other. Harold was 88 years old and in frail medical condition, but still living at home with Clay, 77, who was in good health.

    One evening, Harold fell down the front steps of their home and was taken to the hospital. Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold’s care from the first moment. Tragically, county and health care workers instead refused to allow Clay to see Harold in the hospital. The county then ultimately went one step further by isolating the couple from each other, placing the men in separate nursing homes.

    Ignoring Clay’s significant role in Harold’s life, the county continued to treat Harold like he had no family and went to court seeking the power to make financial decisions on his behalf. Outrageously, the county represented to the judge that Clay was merely Harold’s “roommate.” The court denied their efforts, but did grant the county limited access to one of Harold’s bank accounts to pay for his care.

    What happened next is even more chilling.

    Without authority, without determining the value of Clay and Harold’s possessions accumulated over the course of their 20 years together or making any effort to determine which items belonged to whom, the county took everything Harold and Clay owned and auctioned off all of their belongings. Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will. The county workers then terminated Clay and Harold’s lease and surrendered the home they had shared for many years to the landlord.

    Three months after he was hospitalized, Harold died in the nursing home. Because of the county’s actions, Clay missed the final months he should have had with his partner of 20 years. Compounding this tragedy, Clay has literally nothing left of the home he had shared with Harold or the life he was living up until the day that Harold fell, because he has been unable to recover any of his property. The only memento Clay has is a photo album that Harold painstakingly put together for Clay during the last three months of his life.

    With the help of a dedicated and persistent court-appointed attorney, Anne Dennis of Santa Rosa, Clay was finally released from the nursing home. Ms. Dennis, along with Stephen O’Neill and Margaret Flynn of Tarkington, O’Neill, Barrack & Chong, now represent Clay in a lawsuit against the county, the auction company, and the nursing home, with technical assistance from NCLR. A trial date has been set for July 16, 2010 in the Superior Court for the County of Sonoma.

    In my home state of Louisiana, our state constitution was amended in 2004 to discriminate with regards to taxpayers’ access to civil marriage benefits on the basis of sex. The amendment, crafted in part by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, went beyond the normal language to include the troublingly vague phrase prohibiting marriage or the incidents of marriage, which could conceivably be used to invalidate any arrangement/agreement that provides a right/privilege/responsibility normally conferred through marriage–such as hospital visitation or health care-related decision-making.

    1. Robert, I was unaware of that law – I wonder if it touches on common law marriages or cohabitation by heterosexual couples?

  4. @Polycarp

    Louisiana’s State Constitution Article XII states:

    §15. Defense of Marriage

    Section 15. Marriage in the state of Louisiana shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman. No official or court of the state of Louisiana shall construe this constitution or any state law to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any member of a union other than the union of one man and one woman. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized. No official or court of the state of Louisiana shall recognize any marriage contracted in any other jurisdiction which is not the union of one man and one woman.

    Added by Acts 2004, No. 926, §1, approved September 18, 2004, eff. October 19, 2004.

    Emphasis added

    1. Thanks, Robert. Seems to me that Tony and the boys took a rather Liberal stance in getting the government involved in defining what a family consists of.

      Libertarians and Conservatives are generally against this thing, I would think, allowing the government to interfere in the private lives of its citizens.

  5. This is how the Family Research Council responded to President Obama’s memorandum:

    Code Blue: Liberals Use Hospitals for Pointless Gay Pandering
    To hear homosexual activists talk, you’d think that hospitals are surrounded by airport-level security and require four forms of ID (driver’s license, birth certificate, marriage certificate, and genealogy) before you can get in to visit a patient. Pastors and others who visit the sick on a regular basis can tell you–that’s simply not true. In fact, in my church leadership capacity I have been going to hospitals for years and have never been prevented from visiting. The claim that homosexuals are routinely denied the right to visit their partners in the hospital has only one source–homosexual activists who use it as an argument for redefining marriage. President Obama’s “memorandum” last night ordering hospitals to change their visitation policies is a solution in search of a problem–but also one that panders to a special interest group seeking to redefine marriage.
    Let me be clear–I agree that patients should be free to authorize anyone they want to visit them in the hospital and make decisions for them if they are unable to. In fact, they can already do so–through advance directives, such as a health care proxy or power of attorney. These are private contractual arrangements that do not require redefining “family” or “marriage.” And they don’t require the President of the United States to make himself “hospital-administrator-in-chief.”

    Source: FRC Washington Update “So Help Us God”

    Emphasis Added

    1. I find statements like that funny. Why? Because as a married man, married to a woman, my wife still has to sign HIPPA papers for me to know anything about her when it comes to doctors, etc…

  6. @Polycarp

    Republican Christians who generally oppose federal government interference in private citizens’ personal lives were the driving force behind efforts to ensure that the federal government interfered in the most fundamental aspects of private citizens’ personal lives. Further, as I’ve shared before, laws like ENDA and efforts to secure equal protection under the law are being decried by Christian activists as attempts to secure “special rights”, but these “special rights” were absolutely unopposed when they were crafted to ensure that religion was included. The same logic applies to tax-exempt status of churches who want to engage in open politicking AND retain their taxpayer-subsidy.

    This is one of the main sources of my personal outrage against Christians in America. It’s appalling.

    1. I do think that Christians who view homosexuality as a sin – like other sins, such as greed, abuse, speeding, smoking, etc… – should be able to see the utter hypocrisy and flat out wrongness of laws and actions such as this, Robert. As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure those Christians represented here can.

  7. I just want to clarify something I said on this post. Speaking of the gay hospital visitation memorandum, I said: In a world with human decency, there’d be no reason to call for laws for this sort of thing.

    Just to make sure no one reading gets the wrong impression, I’d like to make it clear that the original intent was to communicate that In a world with human decency, there’d be no reason to call for laws for this sort of thing, because in a world with human decency hospital visitation, for homosexuals or otherwise, wouldn’t be interfered with.

  8. Mitchell, I followed what you meant, too. I think you were clear the first time … but it does never hurt to clarify, does it?

    To be honest, the story from Florida about a woman whose partner and daughter weren’t allowed to see her in the hospital room, because FL doesn’t recognize their union and so the hospital wouldn’t, pretty much won me over from the “Why can’t you settle for civil unions?” side to the “I guess gay marriage rights are necessary.”

    Most “small-government” Republicans, including (if not especially) the Christians, want to keep the government from interfering with THEM. They don’t care if the government messes with people in general, as long as it leaves them alone.

    That sounds like a rotten thing to say, but I think it stands up to scrutiny.

    In what way is anyone hurt by a gay man being at the bedside of his ill partner? Really … there is no way.

  9. @kenleonard
    You’re right. For far too many people, small government is nothing more than a selfish impulse based on a desire to be left alone, and not really a concern for liberty or responsibility. I hope I’m one of the genuine small-govt folks.

    1. Believe it or not, I want a small government, of course, we might differ on the responsibility of said Gov’t.

  10. FWIW, homosexuality is still a sin, according to the Scripture, 1 Cor. 6: 9…”Do not be deceived”! Not a hate message but what the Scripture plainly states. I know this will be seen as unpopular, even with many so-called Christians.

    1. Not sure how that applies… Do you think that hospital visitation shouldn’t be allowed for gay or cohabiting couples of the straight variety?

  11. @Polycarp

    “Fr.” Robert appears to be saying that hospitals shouldn’t treat sinners, or that they shouldn’t treat sinners with any measure of what we’ve established to be common human decency.

    I’m sure pointing out the sin of others is a delightful pastime for folks like “Fr.” Robert, but it’s certainly a turn-off in the recruiting department…

  12. I’m sure pointing out the sin of others is a delightful pastime for folks like “Fr.” Robert, but it’s certainly a turn-off in the recruiting department…

    The concept of universal sin, however, seems to work much better for recruitment.

    1. I am of the opinion, Mitchell, that we can preach heaven, hell, sin and holiness until we are blue in the face, but it is the call of God which ‘recruits.’

  13. Mitchell Powell :
    The concept of universal sin, however, seems to work much better for recruitment.

    You know what would work better? Demonstrating through one’s own life the allegedly transformative effects of belief rather than self-elevating one’s faith while incessantly pointing out the subjective alleged failures of others.

  14. I knew I would catch “hell” (people’s personal wrath) for speaking the Text of Scripture here. And sexual sin is certainly “universal sin”! My point was to sober the sense and reality of this “Text” of St. Paul to the issue! Few say it seeking the honesty of the “naked” Biblical Text! I think I made my point Joel – Always the biblical text! Is that not what “you” believe?

    1. No, you are “catching” “nothing”. You are taking a “conversation” about Christian opposition “or” acceptance of the act “o”f compassion to “talk” about sin. You feel “that” you have to get a word in about “this” issue which doesn’t pertain to the post, but you “must” say “something” regardless and then complain about “it” when “people” ask you “ab”o”ut” it.

      We have cover the issue of sin, but we are talking about something else.

  15. @Robert J. Wilson

    As a priest & pastor I have been at the bedside of people in this situation. But, we still cannot hide the biblical text on this most important issue! I know your gay, that’s between you and God, but I still cannot hide the Bible on this subject. I have a beautiful 21year old neice who is gay, and I love her dearly! But the Revelation of God still stands!


    Pay attention to what’s being discussed before you interject with irrelevant nonsense…

  17. @Polycarp


    One cannot talk about this issue without bringing in the Holy Scripture! You seem to be “dancing” around the issue? Call it, as you see your former pastor’s sin, yes? Speak the truth, of course in love, but often love must be tuff love! Sexual sin is no little issue! As St. Paul says in 1 Cor. 6: 18…”but the immoral man sins against his own body.”

    1. Um… actually, we have spoken about it being a sin, and it seems you are a bit preoccupied with homosexuality. Considering that this issue also involves, in some way, “heterosexual” couples, we do not have to beat anyone over the head with ‘you are so going to hell because you are gay, but I’m not’ talk. You only see homosexuality here, not the real issue.

    1. How does calling homosexuality a sin apply here? Especially when we are not discussing if it is a sin, only if hospitals should allow homosexual couples the same rights as married heterosexual couples based on a variety of reasons – small, less intrusive government, compassion, it is none of our business.

      I believe that you do not think that homosexual couples should be allowed to visit each other.

      If all you see is homosexuality, you may need to refocus.

  18. @Fr. Robert (Anglican)

    Your preoccupation with homosexuality is…revealing.

    If you’d get your head out of my pants and stop fantasizing about gay sex, you’d realize that we’ve established that Christians believe homosexuality to be a sin.

    Whether or not homosexuality is a sin is IRRELEVANT to hospital visitation or the common decency inherent in allowing a person’s loved ones, whoever they might be, to be at a person’s bedside.

    DID YOU NOT READ THE STORY ABOUT THE COUPLE!? Even if the story is only partially true, it’s STILL a travesty. You’ve failed to address the issue at hand, or present anything remotely relevant to where we are in the conversation. I suppose that happens when your mind is so firmly focused on the sex lives of homosexuals.

  19. Fr. Robert, the reason that it doesn’t matter is that we wouldn’t be asking a husband if he’d been faithful when discussing whether he should be able to have his wife at his side in the hospital.

    We wouldn’t deny a child access to his/her parents because s/he had dishonored them at some point.

    In this respect, homosexuality is being treated as some kind of worse level of sin. It’s the only one that is being given control over whether a person can attend a loved one who’s suffering and dying.

    The issue here is whether the most important thing to do is take a dogmatic, homosexuals-are-always-wrong-no-matter-what approach to the question or whether there is a place for compassion and love, even for sinners.

    Frankly, I no longer have any passion for debating homosexuality as a sin … my theory on that is that if it is, then I’ve found one with which I don’t struggle. If it is, then I’ll set about moralizing about it as soon as I finish getting this plank out of my eye.

    But that’s not the discussion here … it’s about hospital policy in a secular world.

    1. Well said, Ken.

      As I stated earlier, even Christians who see homosexuality as sin understand the wrong that perpetrated here.

  20. @Robert J. Wilson

    I was trying to agree with you, man. What I’m saying (however horribly I might repeatedly phrase things) is that the message is not about particular people having a sin problem, it’s about everyone in the whole universe–so no matter what set of things we might think are sins, there’s no need to single people out for peculiar damnation, as so many seem to feel necessary. Like in this case, that means its hypocritical for a Christian to want to discriminate against gay couples, but not against, say, covetous couples or hypocritical couples.

    And you’re also right that the transformative effects of a belief system are a better test than how it phrases its doctrine. Or, in Jesuslingo, ” You will know them by their fruits.”

    A far too often, Robert, we as Christians are, as you say, obsessive over other peoples problems and acting as though we have none. My point wasn’t to preach sin at you–clearly that’s not what you’re looking for or want to hear–my point was to try to agree that there’s no need to single out particular groups as though they were uniquely horrifying sinners who don’t deserve the ability to visit their loved ones.


    1. btw, in an email conversation resulting from this, suddenly ‘war’ has been declared on young ole me who doesn’t like Scripture. Thanks, all!

  21. I am removing the link because, as usual, it has nothing to do with the topic at hand. Some people are just too fixated on homosexuality to understand the issues.

  22. @Fr. Robert (Anglican)

    Once again, you’ve shown yourself to be a “True Christian® Warrior”–– in lay terms, a spiritual terrorist.

    You believe gay people should not even be able to visit their partner in a hospital and/or be empowered at the patient’s request to make medical decisions on his/her behalf. But you would never make such a distinction for others who are what Christians might consider “sinful”. That makes you a heartless hypocrite with a focused hatred for homosexuals. I’m sure your Jesus would be thrilled.

  23. @Robert J. Wilson

    It appears you two ‘rocket scientists’ did not read the link I sent? I saw it today on the theology blog. Anyway I’m “done” on this blog, not to worry..there is really no objective scriptural obedience here, just people that want to express their subjective and personal views.

    1. But if you leave, then there will be no one left to express their subjective and personal views. Oh wait, that is what a blog is.

      Does this ‘done’ mean really done, or done like you’ve been ‘done’ before?

      The point is, all you want to do is to talk about your own issues, not the issue of the post. Shame on you.

  24. @Robert J. Wilson
    What say the rest of you?

    I say you’re right. He’s talking past everyone. But I suppose he’s now “done,” although I must be suspicious whenever someone puts quotation marks around their own promises. Imagine, for example, if Bill Clinton had said, There is “nothing” inappropriate “going” on “between” me and Monica, or if George Bush had said, I am “certain” we will “find” weapons of mass destruction in “Iraq”.

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