Is An Indiana Hospital Trying To Keep A Lesbian From Visiting Her Sick Partner?


Another day, another reminder why marriage equality is needed in ALL states.

Indianapolis resident Sarah Bray is claiming that St. Francis Hospital is keeping her from seeing her partner Jennifer Clemmer, 28, who is hospitalized from a prescription drug overdose. Though Clemmer’s immediate family has been allowed to see her, Bray hasn’t, and she’s distraught.

“We are in a partnership. It’s heart-wrenching,” she said. “If I were a man and this were my wife, there would be no issue.”

The couple owns a home together, both take care of Bray’s son from a previous relationship, and were even planning on getting married in Iowa in the near future, but it hasn’t been enough for the hospital to grant more than a few minutes of visitation privileges at a time.

Fox 59 in Indianapolis reached out to legal experts who agree that Bray’s situation is indicative of the stark differences between state laws regarding marriage equality and federal recognition of marriages, even in the age of DOMA’s dismantling. In Indiana, same-sex marriage is “void even if the marriage is lawful in the place where it is solemnized.”

However, experts were quick to note that the President’s memorandum to the Secretary of Health and Human Services denies this type of treatment and discrimination based on, upon other things, gender identity or sexual orientation. As of now, that memorandum or the rapid rate at which marriage equality is spreading across the country is little consolation to Sarah Bray.

“It’s just gut-wrenching because I’m afraid I’m going to get a phone call in the middle of the night and she’s gone,” she said. “The next time I see her could be at her funeral — one I might not have any say in because of what I’m fighting against.”

After Fox 59’s story ran, St. Francis Hospital issued the following statement:

Franciscan St. Francis Health has as part of its mission to provide the compassionate care and respect of our patients, their families and visitors. As such, our visitation policy applies equally to all people regardless of their orientation.

It is unfortunate that the current situation has been reported inaccurately in the news media and throughout social media. Contrary to the reports and social media comments, the significant other of the patient has been granted visitation with the patient regularly since her admission to Franciscan St. Francis. In addition, the significant other has been provided updates regarding the health status of the patient. We will continue to provide such access and updates as is our policy.

Our hospital has worked diligently and sensitively to meet the needs of both the family and the significant other, while at the same time caring for the best interest of the patient. All are an integral part of the healing process for the patient and Franciscan St. Francis will continue to work with both parties to ensure appropriate care to the patient.

State and federal laws prohibit us from commenting directly on the patient’s condition, prognosis or related details. During this difficult time, the family asks that their privacy be respected by the news media and the public.

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  • DCFarmboi

    I think the question is if the couple never took any legal action (registered partnership, power of attorney, etc.) the hospital is in a bind if the legal next of kin asserts their rights.


    As someone who has a sister who is a Franciscan NUN, I am horrified that this hospital carries such a name on it’s door’s. Compassion, understanding, tenderness? Sorry , try the gift shop on the main floor…we are all out of it everywhere else at St. Francis health. Shame, shame, shame! How cruel to deny the compassion of a person’s pst intimate association to a very special & beloved person, when it is needed MOSt!

  • MissTerious1

    This story is false!!! Even before St. Francis released its statement, I could have told you that the fiancee was allowed in the room because I know other people involved in this story. The reason she was kept out whether for a short time or for good, without getting into details, is a reason that ANYONE regardless of relationship would not be allowed. From what I’ve heard, this woman who might still be legally married to a man was apparently calling the media trying to demand that she be allowed in even during points where legally recognized next-of-kin are not allowed by hospital policy.
    This is not a gay rights issue, this is a woman trying to claim discrimination where there was none so that she can get the attention for it. Actions like that do not advance the cause of same-sex legal union, they make all of us look bad.
    Please, let this poor young woman who thought suicide was her only option, for reasons I can only speculate, be at peace with her family who just wants their daughter to be alright away from the TV cameras.

  • MissTerious1

    @MissTerious1: I wish I could edit this, but let me clarify – I say that this is not a rights issue as a matter of opinion, taking into account that she WAS allowed and HAS been allowed since. As for the article saying that the visits are only short stretches, that’s standard for this situation no matter your relationship to the hospitalized person, be in parent-and-child, partnerships regardless of gender, friendships, coworkers, etc.

  • jwtraveler

    I don’t know anything about the truth of this story, but what I don’t get is: Why does the hospital staff get to decide who can visit me if I’m a patient? If I’m sick and hospitalized, it is MY right to decide who I want to visit me, whether it’s my mother, husband, boss or mailman.

  • Palmer Scott

    @MissTerious1: And we’re supposed to believe you… why? You say you “know” what’s really going on but you offer nothing to back up your assertions. Either offer proof (and a statement from a hospital covering it’s ass isn’t proof) or retract your statement.

  • MissTerious1

    @Palmer Scott: This very article in paragraph four does state that visitations have been occurring, which appears to be the crux of the issue.
    I have tried to make clear, perhaps unsuccessfully, how much is my opinion and how much is second-hand information which may or may not be true. Aside from that, if both this article and the official hospital statement are not enough proof that visitations have been allowed, then there is nothing I can tell you without infringing on the privacy of others. I would sooner retract my statement than drag more people into this, especially as the family has asked for privacy in this time.
    As it stands, I should have respected their wishes in the first place instead of making my initial post. Should any of the involved parties read this, please accept my most sincere apologies.

  • Palmer Scott

    @MissTerious1: Here’s something you can do to lend some credibility to your vague assertions. Identify yourself. Tell us who you REALLY are, otherwise all you sound like is a shill for the hospital.

    By the way, this is MY name and it’s easy enough to google who I am.

  • tricky ricky

    early reports said the mother of the woman in the hospital had her kicked out.

  • Palmer Scott

    @MissTerious1: Why am I only hearing crickets?

  • DonW

    Ugh. “The significant other of the patient.” What cold, clinical language to refer to human beings.

  • MissTerious1

    @Palmer Scott: My reply to you stated, “I would sooner retract my statement than drag more people into this, especially as the family has asked for privacy in this time.”
    The case, however, has now become one of public record for reasons unrelated to discrimination, if you would care to look it up for yourself.

  • hyhybt

    What happened to the follow-up article, visible in RSS, 1:03 PM EST November 20th? Lots of useful information in there, and it was too thorough to be claimed just to be a draft or something that got out by mistake. Either it was genuine, in which case there’s no excuse for pulling it, or it was false, in which case there’s no excuse for not publishing a correction.

  • JOJ81

    Lesbian Sarah Bray attracted national media attention in November when she claimed she was banned from visiting to her partner Jennifer Clemmer’s hospital room. Clemmer was checked into the St. Francis Hospital in Indianapolis after an alleged prescription drug overdose.
    “We are in a partnership,” a tearful Bray said at the time. “It’s heart-wrenching. If I were a man and this were my wife, there would be no issue.”
    Turns out, the whole thing was a charade.
    A week later, on November 20, Bray was arrested and charged with battery and criminal confinement. It was alleged that she had beaten Clemmer unconscious, then staged the whole prescription drug overdose in an attempt to cover up the abuse, which had been going on for years. Bray’s own children confirmed the allegations. The hospital staff was on to her, which is why they wouldn’t let her in the room.
    If she is convicted, Bray could face up to four years in prison.
    Sucks to be her.

    Full story here:

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