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.