Court Decides: Florida Hospitals Can Ban Any Visitor, Even Gay Ones


Janice Langbehn merely wanted to visit her partner of 17 years, Lisa Pond, in a Florida hospital after she was rushed there with a brain aneurysm that took Pond’s life in February 2007. But a social worker at Jackson Memorial Hospital refused to let the women see each other, courtesy Florida’s fabulous (and not entirely unique) laws that allow hospitals to refuse visitation rights to non-married partners. So with the help of Lambda Legal, Langbehn sued, arguing discrimination. Too bad: Her case was just dismissed.

A Miami federal court sided with the hospital in dismissing the case, effectively agreeing Jackson Memorial has no legal requirement to let any visitors inside the hospital (but issuing no formal ruling), let alone a patient’s lesbian lover and their kids. Laughably, Jackson Memorial wants to stay in the gays’ — or at least the public’s — good graces.

Says hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Piedra in a statement: “We have always believed and known that the staff at Jackson treats everyone equally, and that their main concern is the well-being of the patients in their care. At Jackson Health System, we believe in a culture of inclusion. For more than 90 years, the institution has taken great pride in serving everyone who enters its doors, regardless of race, creed, religious beliefs or sexual orientation. We also employ a very diverse workforce, one that mirrors the community we serve. Jackson will continue to work with the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community to ensure that everyone knows they are welcome at all of our facilities, where they will receive the highest quality of medical care.”

Jackson Memorial does know it’s in the business of treating and healing, right?

Blogs Langbehn: “I know there are people who disagreed that I should never have filed the lawsuit to begin with, that to let the dead lay in rest. I couldn’t – I never could – I always picked at those wounds on my arms or face hoping for a different outcome. Speaking out about the inequality we faced was no difference. the kids are in bed, the house is quiet and now I’m stuck with my thoughts with the overwhelming feeling of failure of not only NOT being at Lisa side but also not prevailing to change policy so other family’s didn’t have to face what we did.”

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  • alan brickman

    Pretty sad florida….

  • Mike L.

    Yeah, they’ll be more than happy to take your money, oops I mean take care of you and hire you; Just make sure you’re not dying in their facilities cuz then you’ll die alone.

    Seems they just wanted to make good face by saying they’ll hire you n stuff Just not let you see your loved one before they die.

    Wow I feel treated so equally.

  • Jurlesia

    That was great of Ms. Piedra to release a statement of support for the gays and all, but where is her statement in regard to what happened to Ms. Langbehn’s family?

  • jwalker666

    Florida should break apart and sink into the ocean…nothing good ever happens there.

  • YellowRanger


  • scott ny'er

    @jwalker666: what about south beach? aren’t there a flock of gays there?

  • Bill

    The same thing happened to me. But in Los Angeles at Cedars Sinai of all places. My partner didn’t die, he was just injured.

    But even with all of my legal paperwork, power of attorney, etc. they still would not let me see him.

    And the staff was GLEEFUL in denying me access to my partner. GLEEFUL. It gave them a sense of power, and of being ‘better than’ someone else.

    This was about 5 years ago, and while I did not sue, it really opened my eyes to humanity, specifically the humanity of Heterosexuals, and their desire to destroy us in any way possible.

    To Janice Langbehn, I can only hope she knows that she did the right thing in suing. Even though the case was dismissed.

    We must ALL speak out and raise public hell whenever we are treated like this. Bringing attention to it is the only way to change it.

    I must say that I will never ever forget being treated the way that I was at a place where the staff should have been looking out for people and their well-being instead of taking an opportunity to inflict pain, punishment and persecution on a human being that they have judged to be unworthy.

    Morality indeed, Heteros. Morality indeed.

  • Jaroslaw

    Bill – is it too late to sue? Maybe you should if you have the stomache for it.

  • scott ny'er

    @Bill: Sorry to hear that. Did you take ANY action at all? Speaking with the director or administrator? That’s just terrible. People disappoint me all the time, and yet I still get disappointed hearing stuff like this.

  • schlukitz


    Co-sign Jaroslaw.

    Why should these homophobic mother-f****rs get away with this sort of thing?

    It only encourages them to do it again and again.

  • T in Atlanta

    Every time I hear about this case, I get choked up and then angry. It’s a crime that we are still at the mercy of each hospital to decide how we will be treated when visiting our partners.

    Unfortunately I have been experienced some of this myself, but nothing nearly as extreme as denying me entry. Ironically for us, treatment in small Midwestern hospitals has been far more accepting than in Atlanta’s prestige teaching hospital.

    In Atlanta, we had to endure a surgical nurse loudly discussing her views on “unbiblical behaviors” right before she was to take my partner into surgery to reset a broken bone. Yet in my much less urbane hometown’s hospital in Illinois, the staff went out of their way to accommodate me when my partner was admitted during a visit home. Shame on me for not traveling with our medical powers of attorney, etc., but the hospital staff in a town of 100,000 made some of Atlanta’s staff look very provincial. No one even questioned my right to stay with him in the ICU there.

    I don’t mean to denounce Atlanta or the South, but just to point out that right now we are subject to the whims of each institution which is ridiculous. Sometimes the prejudice is not where you might expect to find it which is, in some ways, even more frustrating because it catches you off guard. On a positive note, the country is moving in the right direction. Growing up in a small town, I never would have thought that I would see the day when I could spend five days in a hospital there with my partner without even getting a dirty look.

  • will clemens

    @Bill: I am not sure If I believe you or if your mentally retarted, if I was turned away from my Partner I would have sued until the cows came home, and if my partner had died and I was all alone I would have gone on a killing spree.

  • AlwaysGay

    @Bill: That’s why I call them HATERosexuals.

  • hyhybt

    I’m just puzzled a bit over hospital visitation. I’ve never had a partner in the hospital, but I’ve visited relatives in different ones often enough and usually nobody even asks who I am. I think I did have to sign in and show ID one of the times it was an ICU, but only at one hospital and I’m pretty sure even there they didn’t ask how or if I was related.

  • Elaine DelValle

    I’ve never had a problem seeing anyone in the hospital. And if I even thought there would be even the slightest chance of a problem I would have no problem lying…..that’s my mother, sister, cousin, you name it. Screw that. No one is going to keep me from seeing a loved one in the hospital. I don’t care if I had to wear a freakin’ disguise or tackle a security guard.

  • sinclair

    These events are horrible, but the whole thing mystifies me. I work at this hospital and I and my many gay colleagues see many many gay, lesbian and TG patients, with said visitors coming in every day without issue.

    Jackson should apologize and form a remedial plan, and let us all move forward.

  • Bill

    Regarding all of the comments on whether or not I sued Cedar Sinai, alas, I did not. I retrospect, I should have contacted Lambda Legal, I guess, or some other situation, but at the time, I was dealing with a seriously injured partner and did not have the funds to hire an attorney.

    And to the person who thought I might be retarded. Um, no. Not retarded. But after 40 years of life as a gay American, I have learned to choose my battles. If my partner and I had children, and they were refused access, I would definitely have approached it differently. Instead, I chose to move on with my life. Mistake? Perhaps. But I do donate a lot of my time to various LGTB organizations and I do my part to help our community. I just really did not see how I could go up against one of the largest, wealthiest medical centers in the country and have any hope of winning.

    Perhaps if it happened today I would react differently. I don’t really know. But that’s my story for what it’s worth.

    Hope I didn’t come off too retarded this time. ; )

  • Bill

    Also, to Will who thought I might be retarded, I might suggest to you that ‘your’ is the word used to show possession, as in ‘your shoes, your shirt, etc.

    When you want to combine noun/verb into a contraction, it is ‘you’re.’

    The Grammar Retard

  • Danny P. Ducello, RN CCRN

    To Janice and family,

    First and foremost please know that you are in my prayers as you continue to heal from your loss. As a gay man and a nurse at this institution for over 6 years I can tell you that Jackson is an extremely sensitive healthcare institution and our model of relationship based care is strong. I manage a large intensive care unit here and our practice is to treat each and every patient, family, and situation with compassion and in keeping with the patient’s wishes and choices.

    I have had the priviledge to be able to assist many same sex couples and their loved ones during the most stressful times in their lives. My staff is commited to these relationships and to providing excellent care to everyone. I work collaboratively with my peers from each unit and can say without a doubt that my gay and straight counterparts share the same commitment to relationship based care.

    I am proud to be a part of this organization and of its mission and will continue with the organization to guarantee relationship based care through compassion and caring to everyone who seeks our help.

    I hope you will understand that like the struggles of the GLBT community to be recognized for the community of caring and wonderful people that we are and not the exceptions that always seem to make the press Jackson is an institution with over 12,000 employees and a very large GLBT employee base who are active in all aspects of care delivery.

    I pray that your healing continues and that you realize that there are many GLBT members caring for the diverse and poor population of Miami-Dade county here at Jackson who are part of your community and are proud to be part of this system of diverse and compassionate care.

    Danny Ducello, RN CCRN

  • Fernando Garcia CST , FABC, MSHSA

    To the Langbehn Family

    My Prayers and Positive thoughts are with you.

    I like so many others also found this to be a very sad event for all involved. But I was extermely saddend by the fact that all the good that Jackson Health and the Public Health Trust do on a daily basis for the G.L.B.T Community on a daily basis.
    I feel that to paint th!e entire instituion with a single brush is wrong. Jackson Health has always and always will have a culture of inclusion for all, G.L.B.T person are well respresented at all levels here at Jackson Health. I would dare to say we are over represented in all areas from your floor nurses, to middle management to the executive offices. I am an out and proud gay man who has been happliy married for six years. My parnter is always included in all events by Senior Management weather an offical event or a private event here at JMH. May time heal your wounds and that of our GLBT Community

    Respectfuly Yours

    Fernando Garcia
    Jackson Miami

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