A lesbian couple in Nevada lost their baby after a hospital denied them their domestic partnership rights.
Marriage equality has not been legalised in Nevada, but domestic partnerships grant same-sex couples “the same rights, protections and benefits” that mixed-sex married couples have.
Brittney Leon and Terri-Ann Simonelli, who are in a registered domestic partnership, went to Spring Valley Hospital because Ms Leon was suffering pregnancy complications.
Upon arrival, they were told that for Ms Simonelli to make any necessary medical decisions for her partner should the complications worsen (as would be the case for a married couple in the same situation ) they would need to acquire power of attorney.
Given the urgency of their situation, they were unable to do this and Ms Leon lost her baby.
Ms Simonelli told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the situation made it very difficult for the couple to handle their emergency:
“I am usually a big fighter. But I was so emotionally upset. It was a very bad day for us. We went there thinking we had the state’s backing, and then we were told we were wrong. It didn’t matter that we were registered domestic partners. It should matter.”
Under Nevada State Law, the line is 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 Las Vegas Review-Journal said that when their reporter questioned a Spring Valley Hospital PR rep if they were aware of the state laws on domestic partnerships, she hung up after accusing them of “biased reporting”.
Ms Leon and Ms Simonelli can take the hospital to court, but have not confirmed such a decision. The LVRJ said that the case may encourage Las Vegas politicians to propose bills to strengthen anti-discrimination laws against LGBT people.
Writing for BlissTree.com, Briana Rognlin said: “This case just seems to highlight why gay marriage really is an important issue, even for our health.
“Marriage baffles many people – even couples – who don’t feel strong emotional ties to the institution, but even if you don’t think it’s important to get married in order to live happily ever after, cases like these prove that marriage serves a lot of other functions that are important for couples and families – including protecting health care access.”