Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Gov. Sanford signs Pro-Gay legislation into law

I had not previously heard anything about this legislation, but that seems to be the M.O. of the SC Homo - slip it in quietly. That's tongue and cheek, surely.

But it's true! Tonight at the SC Gay and Lesbian Business Guild Expo, David Collier announced on behalf of the SC Equality Coalition that yesterday the Governor signed into law "unprecedented hospital visitation rights to LGBT couples who have executed health care power of attorney forms."

But don't expect Mr. Sanford to be dancing on stage with RuPaul this September at the SC Pride festival here in Columbia.

Mr. Collier posted a blog on his law firm's myspace page:

On June 11, 2008 Governor Mark Sanford signed an act amending SC Code Ann Section 62-5-504(E), which will provide unprecedented hospital visitation rights to LGBT couples who have executed health care power of attorney forms.

As most LGBT couples are aware, many hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities have adopted policies that restrict visitation rights to immediate family members and spouses. These policies are most often applied in situations where a patient is in an area of a health care facility that is providing critical or life saving care. Of course, a policy that restricts visitation to blood related persons and legal spouses serves to deprive those rights to LGBT partners. Further, hospitals often strictly enforce these "family only" policies even in instances where an LGBT partner possesses a valid health care power of attorney form. South Carolina Equality, though it's lobbying efforts was able to persuade the Legislature to amend SC Code section 62-5-504(E) to provide that a person who possesses a valid health care power of attorney form shall be permitted the identical hospital visitation privileges that are afforded to immediate family and spouses.

For those partners who have already executed health care power of attorney forms, no additional action is necessary. The visitation power exists by virtue of possessing the power of attorney form. For those partners who have not executed a form, you can download one here.

Forms are also available at most county Probate Courts. A list of those courts and contact information can be found here.

This is an exciting and significant step in providing hospital and nursing facility visitation rights to the LGBT population of South Carolina. The legislation, which is effectively immediately, was championed through the General Assembly by South Carolina Equality, an organization dedicated to promoting civil and human rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered South Carolinians. You can see the text of the new legislation here.
Ever since the crescendo of anti-gay bigotry of 2006, South Carolina's progressives have been working quietly behind the scenes, and as local politics points out if they're quiet enough about it they'll rally some of the most unexpected allies in the gay cause, or at least convince others not to stand in the way.

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