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.”