Obama Awards Presidential Citizens Medal To Lesbian Denied Access To Dying Partner

Janice Langbehn, who was denied hospital access to her dying partner, is one of the recipients of 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal, The White House has announced.

Langbehn and her partner, Lisa Pond, were on vacation in 2007 when Pond suddenly became ill and was rushed to the hospital. Because they were unmarried, Langbehn was not allowed to see Pond, who soon died from a brain aneurysm. Langbehn became an LGBT activist and her efforts garnered the attention of President Obama, who personally apologized to her and ultimately revised hospital visitation rights for hospitals receiving federal Medicare or Medicaid funds (essentially all hospitals).

Established in 1969, the Citizens Medal recognizes Americans who have performed noteworthy acts of public service.  “This year’s recipients of the Citizens Medal come from different backgrounds, but they share a commitment to a cause greater than themselves,” said the President.  “They exemplify the best of what it means to be an American, and I am honored to be able to offer them a small token of our appreciation.”