FOR SAME-SEX COUPLES, EQUALITY IN THE HOSPITALBy Tara Parker-Pope
For people in same-sex relationships, aging carries an added burden of anxiety: the fear that in a health crisis their partner might be excluded from making medical decisions, even visiting their bedside.
Consider Tim Hare, 62, a retired architect in Easton, Pa., with a history of heart problems. He and his partner of 34 years, Earl Ball, were legally married in Canada in 2003. But whether hospitals and health care authorities in this country would recognize them as family members is an open question, even with President Obama’s order last week extending hospital visiting rights and decision-making authority to same-sex partners.
“This is a real fear everywhere I go,” Mr. Hare said. “I have been to a lot of specialists lately, and I look and think, ‘Wait till they hear the “husband” word.’
Advocates and experts say that Mr. Obama’s memorandum to Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, is just a first step — that its success will depend on…