At Hospital, Nevada Couple’s Status Questioned

Lesbian partners face cluelessness about state domestic partnership law

On July 20, Brittney Leon checked into Spring Valley Hospital in Nevada for complications with her pregnancy. She and her partner Terri-Ann Simonelli didn’t anticipate having their rights as domestic partners questioned.

That’s what happened when Simonelli and Leon found out from an admissions officer at the hospital that the couple required a secure power of attorney to make any type of medical decisions regarding one another. Since 2009, Nevada state law has given domestic partners all the rights of married couples. Yet the domestic partnership law has been seemingly overlooked in the hospital’s official policy: the law clearly states that “domestic partners have the same rights, protections and benefits, and are subject to the same responsibilities, obligations and duties under law, whether derived from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses.” The story was first reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Assemblyman Tick Segerblom of Las Vegas has already suggested the idea of purposing a new bill designed to stop discrimination against gay and transgender people in similar situations; and those who do discriminate would be subject to penalties. Leon and Simonelli too have suggested making changes that would require businesses to sign a statement saying it has read and will follow the domestic partner law. Another proposal calls for state ID cards for domestic partners, which will serve as proof of the legitimacy of their relationship.

Leon and Simonelli have stated they do not plan to file a complaint or lawsuit against the hospital. They just hope their experience will bring more awareness to the treatment of domestic partnerships and gay people.

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