Pride and Prejudice

By |2007-06-28T09:00:00-04:00June 28th, 2007|Uncategorized|

The 2007 Pride season in Michigan is about at its mid-point. The Michigan Pride March, Rally & Festival comes to Lansing this weekend; Hotter Than July! is three weeks away. Windsor’s pride celebration will be here at the end of July. Pride season is fun, fabulous and frenzied – as well as important in helping the world understand LGBT issues.
This edition’s Creep of the Week column by D’Anne Witkowski is a poignant demonstration of the power of each of our personal stories. She writes about a lesbian couple whose dream vacation turned into the worst kind of nightmare. The couple was in Florida about to embark on a cruise with their three children when one of the moms was struck down by a brain aneurism that ultimately killed her. They were far away from their Washington State home, and in a strange hospital in Jackson County, Fla. The horror of a terminal medical catastrophe was further amplified by the hospital’s unwillingness to recognize the five of them as a family unit. Janice Langbehn was not permitted to see her life partner of 18 years, Lisa Pond, until after the hospital considered her already dead.
There is hardly a more devastating life experience than the loss of a spouse. So one has to wonder what the hospital administrators at Jackson Memorial Hospital saw as the benefit to either the hospital or the patient by refusing to allow the patient’s family of choice to be with her as she died. What is the political, spiritual or social principle that could possibly trump the most basic of human needs to be near a loved one at their ultimate time of need? What were they thinking would happen?
Perhaps they were afraid of a lawsuit from disgruntled members of Pond’s “family-of-origin.” Perhaps they were frightened by the prospect of lesbian affection displayed in one of their treatment rooms. Perhaps it had never occurred to them that two women could devote themselves to each other and that they could build a strong family unit without an opposite sex spouse.
Whatever their reasoning, whether benign or not, the result was to create a disaster for the Langbehn-Pond family that underscored the absolute necessity for us to acquire family rights and recognition of our relationships. Pride events each year give us a chance to celebrate our accomplishments, have some fun and rally for our futures. The Langbehn-Pond family tragedy is a stark reminder of what we still need to do to protect ourselves, our families and our relationships from the capricious prejudice of uncaring bureaucrats.
This Saturday in Lansing and at upcoming July Pride events, come out, connect, share and show our neighbors who we are. Just four weeks after losing the love of her life, Janice Langbehn stood on the dais at Washington State’s Pride and told her story. We all can follow her brave lead and be out, open, proud and visibile at Pride and every day of our lives.

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BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.