New regulations regarding hospital visitation rights went into effect Tuesday, paving the way for members of the LGBT community to have further control over their own medical decisions.
Under the new protocol, initiated last April and developed over the following months, hospitals partaking in Medicare and Medicaid must now allow all patients to decide visitation rights, as well as who to entrust with making medical decisions on their behalf, regardless of sexual or gender identity.
"This policy impacts millions of LGBT Americans and their families. The President saw an injustice and felt very strongly about correcting this and has spoken about it often over the years," White House deputy director of public engagement Brian Bond wrote on the White House blog.
Janice Langbehn, who, along with her children, was denied hospital access to her partner, Lisa Pond, in 2007 after she suffered an aneurysm told ABC News that she is happy with the development, but still grieving over the prior hospital practice.
"Other couples, no matter how they define themselves as families, won't have to go through what we went through, and I am grateful," she said. "But the fact that the hospital didn't let our children say goodbye to their mom... That's just something that will haunt me forever."
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese has also expressed gratitude to President Obama and his administration for quick action on changing the policy.
"LGBT people experience discrimination in many aspects of their lives, but it is perhaps at its worst during times of crisis," Solmonese said. "We thank President Obama and HHS Secretary Sebelius for recognizing the hardships LGBT people face and taking this important step toward ensuring that no one will be turned away from a partner's hospital bedside again."