The issue of visitor rights and medical decision making has been addressed numerous times in recent years as same-sex couples still continue to face obstacles and discrimination in this area. When the same-sex spouse is admitted into hospital other family members work with the facility to deny the spouse any access to their wife/husband. This is extremely cruel and traumatic not only to the patient but also to the same-sex spouse as well.

Unfortunately, such cases still occur today in 2019 and one such similar incident is happening to my friend right now. So, I will share the story of Marcia and Mary in the hope it raising awareness to others but to also to gain support for the couple I know.

Marcia and Mary’s Story

I met Marcia and Mary when I lived in Colorado as we were all connected to the same non-profit, a branch which I ran in the early 2000s. Mary is from the United Kingdom and Marcia is a US citizen.

Marcia served her country in the US Navy from 1983 to 1998, we are all proud of her achievements dedicating 15 years of her life to protect us all. Unfortunately, Marcia had a stroke in 2017 which lead to many medical complications but Mary, her wife, stayed by her side to ensure she received not only the best health care possible but also to extend her life by keeping her active, providing her constant attention and love. In fact, if it wasn’t for Mary’s dedication Marcia’s health would have seriously declined.

Marcia’s medical issues include being left with dementia and seizures, she takes a lot of medications, some provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs but also by a private neurologist for her seizures and dementia. She also takes blood thinners making it common for small superficial bruising to occur, this just means the medication is working but can lead to misinterpretation by those who are not educated on the matter. As I have learned from personal experience it takes a huge amount of work to look after someone with dementia, to ensure there is a routine and stable environment to live in, often that care facilities cannot provide round the clock, hence the decision they made together to look after her at home. Mary has in fact been a full-time carer for Marcia and unfortunately, the US doesn’t acknowledge or respect them in the same way that Europe does.

Marcia Taken Away From Mary

Recently the police came to their home and took Marcia away from Mary. They removed her while only in her underwear and wouldn’t listen to Mary’s pleas to allow her to get dressed. Marcia was of course extremely distressed about being removed to the extent that neighbours heard the screaming. Marcia was taken from the home without any of her life-saving medications. Now, Mary has been denied access to Marcia, therefore that facility won’t be able to get an update from her on Marcia’s recent condition, progress or other matters.

How has this affected Mary? As you can imagine Mary is overwhelmed and totally distraught over the matter. Thankfully she has some friends around to ensure she is doing ok. Mary has been through a few medical challenges herself recently, but despite that Marcia hasn’t seen any interruption to her care, which is how dedicated she is. Imagine if you were forcibly separated from your partner of many years, it really is such a traumatic thing to deal with, most things you can cope with when your partner is by your side but when that is ripped apart it feels as though your whole life is collapsing before you.

Why has this happened? From what I can see, there has been a long history of Marcia’s family not wanting her to be taken care of by Mary. This is not the first time they have tried to interfere with their wishes. In fact, I personally would have thought Mary should be supported more, financially and emotionally, being the one who is dedicating her life towards Marcia’s well-being. There are better ways of negotiating the best for Marcia, based on the long-term plan the couple had in place, rather than using strong-arm tactics that serve no helpful purpose.

What next? Mary faces a court hearing in the coming days to resolve this matter. Unfortunately, they are a low-income family only barely surviving on small monthly payments which means she needs to raise money for legal costs. They don’t qualify for free legal assistance and it’s impossible to find a lawyer who will take on more pro-bono work. Lawyer fees are expensive and there are bound to be other related costs in the future, for example, getting Marcia back to where she was prior to being taken away, ensuring some legal protections so this doesn’t happen again.

Please help where you can, by donating any small amount or by sharing their story with others. Thank you!

Mary and Marcia
Mary and Marcia

Update

Mary has been denied access to her wife who is currently in a care home and face more legal hurdles to try to be together. Being separated is particularly difficult at special occasions especially on birthdays and Veteran’s Day. Being same sex partners is a challenge in itself in many parts of the US. Mary and Marcia are like many LGBTQ couples who are from different countries and have faced major obstacles to remain together as they have worked their way through an unfriendly immigration system. However, through all the immigration heartache they still managed to be together through thick and thin. So, it’s particular difficult to know that through all these challenges that has been taken away from them by a discriminatory family.

It’s extremely tough for Mary to fund the necessary legal team to put up a challenge to the courts unfair decision as well as manage day to day on a low income. Therefore any help from LGBTQ organizations in taking this case on to assisting Mary financially would be very welcome, this is why a GoFundMe page has been set up. Unfortunately, friends can only provide a small contrubution to the overall money or help that Mary needs to survive, therefore will require greater awareness to an issue that could befall us all eventually, it would be heartbreaking for any of us not to be able to access our life long partners. Please share Mary’s GoFundMe story.