One Year Later, Gay Marriage Fight Still On

Tuesday marks one year since California allowed same-sex couples to marry following a state Supreme Court decision that made the practice legal. Gay advocates point to a recent case out of Fresno that they say shows the current struggle many homosexuals still face.

Civil rights groups are urging a Fresno hospital to change its policies after employees barred a lesbian woman from visiting her partner in the emergency room.

Kristin Orbin, 29, collapsed last month after walking in a gay marriage march in the Central Valley city. She was rushed to Community Regional Medical Center, where she says an ambulance driver kept her partner of four years, Teresa Rowe, from seeing her into the lobby.

Rowe says that was followed by hospital employees ignoring her request to visit Orbin for more than two hours.

Orbin said she asked to see Rowe several times from her hospital bed but was told she was in a no visitor zone.  She said other people near her were allowed visitors.  When asked about that, she told the San Jose Mercury News, an attendant told her, "Well, those people are different."

A hospital spokeswoman says an internal investigation found Orbin had received good care and the hospital followed proper procedures. 

The couple are not legal domestic partners, but Rowe has the legal authority to make medical decisions for Orbin.  She also has power of attorney.

The civil rights group claims the hospital discriminated against the couple based on their sexual orientation and that it failed to follow anti-discrimination portions of the patient's bill of rights.

"Physically I feel fine, but emotionally I'm just very upset that people have to go through this," Orbin told the

Mercury News. "We're not in it to get anything from the hospital other than an apology."

A letter has given the hospital until June 22 to respond to the calls for a policy change.

An estimated 18,000 couples were married between June 16 and November 4 of last year. The weddings came to an abrupt halt after voters approved Proposition 8, which amended the state Constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts on the Rowe-Orbin incident and the same-sex marriage fight in the comments.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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