Lacey resident Janice Langbehn, whose family story sparked a presidential order that hospitals recognize the rights of gay couples, was an invitee to a White House Pride Month celebration Tuesday night.
LACEY, Thurston County — Lacey resident Janice Langbehn, whose family story sparked a presidential order that hospitals recognize the rights of gay couples, was an invitee to a White House Pride Month celebration Tuesday night.
Along with Langbehn and her children, invitees included Constance McMillen, an 18-year-old from Mississippi who challenged her school after officials canceled a school-sanctioned prom when she made plans to take her girlfriend as her date.
“I am honored to be invited to the White House and to have had the opportunity to tell my family’s story,” Langbehn said in a statement issued by the law firm representing her, Lambda Legal.
“While none of this will bring Lisa back, it will hopefully ensure that the next gay couple who arrives at the door of an emergency room will not be kept apart.”
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Langbehn and her partner, Lisa Pond, together for 18 years, were vacationing in Florida in 2007 when Pond collapsed with a brain aneurysm.
Langbehn believes the couple’s sexual orientation was a factor when the medical staff at Jackson Memorial Hospital declined to allow Langbehn and three of their children to be by Pond’s side.
A hospital spokeswoman last year declined to comment on the case but said the hospital has nondiscrimination policies and decisions on visitation are made for medical reasons.
Langbehn’s lawsuit against the hospital was dismissed last year, but her story inspired the White House to issue an order that hospitals allow same-sex couples the same visitation rights as other family members.
After issuing the order in April, President Obama called Langbehn to express sympathy over the circumstances of Pond’s death.
The rules are expected to be released later this week.