President Obama paid back his gay supporters recently by ordering the Department of Health and Human services to forbid discrimination against gay partners in visiting gay patients and making health care decisions in hospitals that receive federal funding through programs like Medicaid and Medicare. However, the political payback discriminates against others.
First, there are anecdotal stories about how gays are denied to be there as their partner dies or to visit a partner in the hospital. There are some people who ignore health care power of attorneys and refer to family members instead of the gay partner. But, to be frank, by and large, most hospitals do not do that. Usually the sick and dying get to see who they want to see and their legal documents are honored. Doctors and nurses usually do not play prison guard.
But as there are some medical professionals who do like to play warden, it is not a bad thing to make sure the patient's wishes are met. What is a bad thing is leaving out straights. There are also anecdotal stories about the longtime live in girlfriend of a straight man being denied visits and decision rights by that straight man's family who despises her. There are the lonely elderly, with no spouse left or blood family left, who are denied a visit by the neighbors who looked after them for years.
If the government of the United States is going to protect people from jerks who keep people from seeing people that they care about when they are in a health care crisis, why not include everyone? Indeed, how would it hurt gay rights if every patient was included in having the right to see whom they wanted to see in the hospital and have their legal medical powers of attorney honored without question?
But, alas, this is politics. President Obama had to throw a bone to the gay supporters. So, he issued this order. The right thing to do would have been to include everyone in such. But, that would not make Obama's gay supporters feel special. Besides straights who live together outside of marriage and the lonely old have no organized political power. Only in America. Only under President Obama.