Friday, October 9, 2009

The Lonely Death of Lisa Pond

By Caleb T. Maupin
Published Oct 8, 2009 10:37 PM

Like much of the media, the government and other voices of the wealthy ruling class at the top of U.S. society, the Jackson Health System says it does not discriminate against or oppress gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people. This profiteering enterprise that treats ill people who can afford to pay for it, says that they have “taken great pride in serving everyone who enters ... regardless of race, creed, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.” (Miami Herald, Sept. 29)

Like the capitalist-controlled government, the capitalist-owned media, and every other voice that claims that the oppression of the LGBT community does not exist, the Jackson Health System was lying and distorting the truth.

They made this statement after being sued by Janice Langbehn. When Langbehn’s partner of 18 years, Lisa Pond, was dying of a brain aneurysm, Langbehn and the couple’s three children were not allowed to visit her. Pond died in her hospital bed at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, alone. Jackson Health Systems was protected by the capitalist courts when they recently dismissed the lawsuit brought against the hospital.

“The hospital took the position that we thought was pretty extreme—that it has no duty, no legal obligation, to allow visitors [of any sort] in the hospital. The court agreed,” said Beth Littrell, a staff attorney for Lambda Legal, a national gay-rights group representing Langbehn.

Lisa Pond and Janice Langbehn certainly loved each other just as much as any legally married couple, but in Florida, like in so many other states, this love is considered second-class. The couple did not follow the unwritten rules that capitalist social relations impose on LGBT people in patriarchal society. They did not deny their sexual feelings in order to satisfy the dictates of this profit-based society.

Pond and Langbehn loved each other, and even though they could not legally marry, or even make love in some states until 2003, they did not deny this love. They lived together and were the parents of three children. When Pond was struck with the fatal aneurysm, they were preparing to leave on a vacation cruise exclusively for lesbian and gay couples and their families.

For their rebellion against the established patriarchal family structure, mandated by the system of private property, Pond and Langbehn were punished severely. Pond died alone in her bed. Langbehn lived on, having been unable to spend the last few hours with her loved one before she died.

This case should raise several questions in people’s minds. What exactly did Langbehn do to deserve to lose the love of her life in this horrific way? What did Pond do to deserve to die alone in the hospital, away from her partner? What kind of system do we live under that basic human rights and dignity are denied to LGBT people? How many others must die alone?

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