Tuesday, March 10, 2009

That slippery word "rights"

In the discussion engendered by the controversy over Proposition 8 in California, the participants have repeatedly used the term "rights" over and over. A recent comment to my previous post, stated, "Looking at the broader perspective, you're right of course. In California, gay individuals really do have a lot of rights. Unfortunately, that's only in California. Take a short drive to Utah, and even if you are a faithful, covenant keeping member, if someone thinks you look, act, or might in any way be gay, they can fire you from your job and evict you from your home. Even something as basic as hospital visitation rights doesn't exist in the state of Utah."

[Aside: Short drive from California to Utah?}

First of all, we have to ask if the characterization of rights in Utah is accurate. I strongly disagree with the statement based on the definition of rights discussed in my previous posts. To begin an analysis I will take the last issue first, is there a legal "hospital visitation right" and if so what is meant by the term "right" in this context? Is this so-called "hospital visitation right" basic in any way? (Whatever basic means).

Put another way, do I have a "right" to visit someone in a privately run, privately operated hospital? If not why and if so why? Does my right to visit anyone I choose, overrule the patient's privacy and health care concerns?

It appears that the term "hospital visitation rights" is a short hand buzz-word way of referring to an issue created by the Gay community. Those supporting this so-called "right" insist that it is a "human rights issue." The usage of the term "rights" in this context is a prime example of propaganda, which is defined as a concerted set of messages aimed at influencing the opinions or behaviors of large number of people. Here is a description of the use of propaganda:

Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or gives loaded messages in order to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda. Wikipedia.

Visiting someone in a hospital is not an "inherent human right" neither is it a civil right under any definition of civil rights. The use of the term "rights" in this context has absolutely no legal support whatsoever. It appears from a review of the discussion on the Internet and research in Westlaw for court cases, that their is no particular legal precedent for such a claim. Although the Gay community would like to make this a Gay-rights issue, hospital visitation issues in general are looked at legally under the wider umbrella of cohabitation. An unmarried heterosexual couple is subject to the same restrictions based on policy.

The term "hospital visitation rights" itself has no legal existence outside of the contrived Gay Rights agenda. In fact the concept of "hospital visitation" is referred to in the very few Federal cases even mentioning the term, as a "benefit" not a right. See Milberger v. KBHL, LLC, 486 F.Supp 2d 1156, D. Hawaii (2007) for example.

Claiming some sort of "hospital visitation right" is a case of pure propaganda with no basis in law whatsoever and I sorry the person who made the comment bought into this scheme.

Now, what if there is a real issue about hospital visitation apart from the Gay Rights' agenda. How can that be solved? Probably the easiest way to solve this problem is with some sort of Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will. This approach avoids the issue of the relationship of the parties altogether by designating someone to act for you in the case of an emergency where you cannot communicate your wishes. If the contrived issue of "hospital visitation rights" can be so easily resolved, isn't it even more obvious that the use of the phrase by the Gay community is for propaganda only?

More later on the issue of rights in the context of hospital visitation.


  1. That's quite a challenge taking on one of the sacred cows of the gay rights movement. I suppose they'll just call you insensitive for your understanding of the issue. What stymies me is that gays have gotten away with this "visitation rights" propaganda. I suppose, in some sense, it fuels the oppression mentality that gays use to bring an emotional element into the argument.

  2. I'd love to hear more on hospital visitation in the US.

    In Australia, domestic partnerships (which incude marriage and registered de-facto partnerships) can have hospital visitation benefits.

  3. Imagine this for a moment: Your husband or wife is lying in a hospital ICU or CCU dying and that hospital's policy was that only "blood" relatives were allowed into the room. Your children are allowed, your spouses parents and siblings are allowed, even their cousins can go right in, but you are not because you do not share the same gene pool. Would you not feel that your “basic human right” to be with and comfort your dying loved one was being violated? That exact scenario happens every day across the nation to same-sex couples. Hospital visitation of your loved ones is a “basic human right” regardless of weather there is a legal precedent for it or not.