But What About in Sickness?

The story below from Indiana illustrates one of the disastrous dilemmas that committed same-sex couples face in not being able to have a legal relationship with each other. In Massachusetts, some of the most convincing arguments put forth by our legislators as they debated whether to support our Supreme Judicial Court’s decision allowing same-sex marriage were those focused around times of a medical crisis. Legislators and those of us advocating for same-sex marriage realized that medical crises for loved ones are often the most stressful moments of our lives.

After same-sex couples began marrying in Massachusetts on May 17, 2004, more reassuring stories about emergency rooms gave us insights into the power of marriage.In Courting Equality, Dawn Paul and George Smart share reassuring stories about being able to be with their spouses immediately upon announcing that they were married.

Patrick Atkins and Brett Conrad were not so lucky as 365Gay.com recounts:

 Indianapolis, Indiana. For a quarter century Patrick Atkins and Brett Conrad shared their lives including a home and bank accounts but when Atkins fell near fatally ill Conrad discovered he had no rights in determining the care or who would deliver it to his ailing partner.

In 2005 Atkins collapsed while on a business trip to Atlanta. He had a ruptured aneurysm and later suffered a stroke while hospitalized.

When Conrad arrived in Atlanta Atkins’ family directed the hospital to refuse him access to the ailing 47-year old, the Indianapolis Star reports. He was allowed by sympathetic hospital staff to sneak in after hours and after Atkins parents had left.

When Atkins was moved to a nursing home Conrad again was forced to sneak in to see the man with whom he had spend more than half his life. 

Later that year Conrad filed for guardianship of Atkins. But the now severely disabled man’s parents quickly moved their son to their home and have refused to allow Conrad access to him. More

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