News Notes: Beyond the Carolinas
Hospital visitation rules updated
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Sept. 7, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released new guidelines that strengthen the Nov. 2010 hospital visitation rules that protect patients’ rights to be visited in the hospital by their families and loved ones. The guidance, which took effect immediately, makes several important changes to current policy and provides significant protections for LGBT patients and their families.
The new guidance requires that when a patient is competent to choose a representative and surrogate decision-maker, hospitals must honor that request, even if the person had previously designated someone else. In addition, when a patient is incapacitated, hospitals must recognize a patient’s self-identified family members, regardless of whether they are related by blood or legally recognized. This rule specifically includes same-sex partners and de facto parent-child relationships, and even prohibits a hospital from requiring proof of a relationship in order to respect that relationship.
Where a patient is incapacitated and more than one person claims to be the patient’s representative, hospitals must resolve the dispute by considering who the patient would be most likely to choose. The hospital must consider factors including the existence of a legally recognized marriage, domestic partnership or civil union, a shared household or any special factors that show that a person has a special familiarity with the patient and the patient’s wishes. Importantly, the guidance does not require that the marriage, domestic partnership or civil union be legally recognized by the state in which the patient is being treated.
Mistrial in case of 15 y.o. killer
OXNARD, Calif. — On Sept. 1, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell declared a mistrial in the Brandon McInerney murder case because the jury could not reach an agreement on whether to find McInerney guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or manslaughter. McInerney was 14 when he murdered 15-year-old Lawrence “Larry” King in class at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, Calif. Reportedly, McInerney was embarrassed by King’s public declaration of love a few days earlier, which prompted him to shoot King in the head on Feb. 12, 2008.
After the proceeding ended in deadlock, the prosecution vowed to immediately retry McInerney. However, they indicated the decision to try him as an adult as in the first trial might be reversed to better ensure a guilty verdict.
GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard stated, “The mistrial declared today is hardly a surprise. This was always destined to be a case with little resolution and no winners, whatever the verdict. The central facts remain the same: homophobia killed Larry King and destroyed Brandon McInerney’s life, and adults failed both young men because of their own inability to deal forthrightly and compassionately with the multiple challenges they each faced. The jury’s indecision is a sad reflection of our collective inability to find common ground and invest in a better future for all youth and a culture of respect for all.”
College sued for hiring bias
FORT WORTH, Texas — Lambda Legal has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas claiming Tarrant County College officials violated the U.S. Constitution by preventing qualified candidate Jacqueline Gill from interviewing for full-time teaching positions because of their belief that she is a lesbian.
“Jacqueline Gill’s qualifications match or exceed those of the other temporary instructors hired by Tarrant County College that summer. They were permitted to interview for those positions when they were made permanent, but Gill was not,” said Kenneth Upton, Jr., Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s South Central Regional Office based in Dallas.
Gill received high praise from colleagues, superiors, parents and teachers while at TCC. However, she was also subjected to a lengthy diatribe about “homosexuals” and about how “Texas and Tarrant County College do not like homosexuals” by English Department Chair Eric Devlin after a former student who had been disciplined for academic dishonesty by Gill retaliated by falsely claiming that Gill flirted with girls during class, a claim Gill denied. Then, in June 2010, Gill alone of the contract teachers who entered with her in the summer of 2009 was not permitted even to interview for the teaching positions when they were made permanent.
Ghana churches sever U.S. ties
ACCRA, Ghana — The Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG) has voted to sever ties with the Presbyterian Church (USA) because the latter now ordains open lesbians and gays. The PCG’s Facebook page details the decisions from its 11th General Assembly. Item 9 states, “The Assembly decided to sever relationship with any partner church that ordained homosexuals as ministers and allowed for same-sex marriages.”
The move is a response to the July 10 decision of the PCUSA to allow gay and lesbian ministers. In addition, the PCG is establishing centers throughout Ghana to provide ex-gay therapy. Right Rev. Emmanuel Martey, moderator of the PCG, told Joy News the plan to offer counseling services to homosexuals does not mean the church is softening its position on homosexuality.
Martey is staunchly anti-gay. He has described homosexuality as filthy, unbiblical and un-African.
U.K. to allow gay blood donors
LONDON, England — Gay men will soon be able to donate blood after the government moved to lift donor restrictions across the U.K. A lifetime ban was put in place in Britain in the 1980s as a response to the AIDS epidemic. But the Department of Health has said men who have not had homosexual sex within a year will now be able to donate as of Nov. 7.
The move comes after recommendations were made to change the restrictions following a review by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs earlier this year. The committee had considered the risk of infection being transmitted in blood, attitudes of potential donors in complying with selection criteria and scientific improvements in the testing of donated blood.
NHS Blood and Transplant medical and research director Dr Lorna Williamson told Sky News the advice was accepted by the health ministers in England, Scotland and Wales.
She reassured the public that there were limited risks under the new policy, likening it to the “same sort of risks as being struck by lightning.”