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July 29, 2011

CMs Mendelson, Bowser, and Catania hit Sibley Hospital for discrimination against same-sex parents

Yesterday D.C. Council Members Phil Mendelson, Muriel Bowser, and David Catania wrote a stern letter to Sibley Hospital and the D.C. Hospital Association. Allow me to provide some background.

On July 8, CM Bowser and GLAA were contacted by a local married lesbian couple whose child was recently born at Sibley Hospital. They described their difficulty in obtaining a birth certificate from the hospital, which said it had "set aside" their paperwork because they had requested the parent-and-parent form instead of the mother-and-father form, and required their marriage certificate. It turned out that the hospital presumes opposite-sex couples are married and requires no marriage certificate from them. Enforcing one standard for straight couples and another for gay couples is discriminatory in violation of D.C. law.

To complement CM Bowser's efforts, I put the couple in touch with D.C. Office of GLBT Affairs Director Jeffrey Richardson and D.C. Council Judiciary Committee Chairman Phil Mendelson's committee clerk Brian Moore (a 2010 winner of GLAA's Distinguished Service Award for his work on the marriage equality law and other legislation, including a parental rights law pertinent to this case). Richardson agreed with my assessment. Moore investigated, resulting in this joint letter from the three council members. As the letter states, the law requires all married couples to be treated the same, regardless of sexual orientation.

Thanks to the council members for their "terrific letter," as our colleague Bob Summersgill calls it. Thanks also to the council staffers who assisted in the matter, and to Jeff Richardson for his support. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

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