Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. vetoed a bill yesterday that would have granted [medical decision making] rights to gay partners who register with the state, concluding after weeks of intense deliberations that the legislation threatened "the sanctity of traditional marriage."This is completely senseless. It happens to be one of the few issues that most people-- even among anti-gay marriage folks-- are sympathetic to in regards to the legal problems facing gay couples. It's basically the right to self-determination, the right to decide who is treated as your next of kin and who gets to be at your side during medical emergencies. Even in the Maryland legislature, the Medical Decision Making Act had strong support.
Modeled after laws in California, Hawaii and other states, the legislation [the Medical Decision Making Act] would have granted nearly a dozen rights to unmarried partners [heterosexual or homosexual] who register with the state. Among those: the right to be treated as an immediate family member during hospital visits, to make health care decisions for incapacitated partners and to have private visits in nursing homes.
In his veto message, Ehrlich said he is "sympathetic to the needs of mutually dependent couples and [wants] to support compassionate efforts to expedite health-related decisions for Marylanders in need."
He said, however, that the bill's requirement that couples register as life partners "will open the door to undermine the sanctity of traditional marriage."
Kargman-Kaye, 37, said that after she emerged from heart surgery five years ago, a nurse literally pushed away her longtime partner, who was there to support her, "because we're not considered a family in the eyes of Maryland."
The Medical Decision Making Act contained 11 basic protections, seven of which could not be accomplished through advance directive, power of attorney, or will. The bill passed the Senate with a veto-proof majority of 31-16, but fell two votes short of such a majority in the House of Delegates, where the bill passed 83-50.So, coming from a gay Marylander, I can testify that this really burns, I know what it is like to be told that you can't be in the room because you're not "family" or get a raised eyebrow from a nurse when I lied and said I was my partner's "sister." I get a lump in my through just thinking about it.
I really can't figure out why Ehrich did this-- or a host of other nasty anti-worker vetoes-- with his re-election bid up in 2006. He ran as a "moderate" but then lurched hard to the right in a way that won't even benefit him in a state that is 2-1 democrat. Maybe he doesn't want to be governor anymore. If so, he should just step down instead of inflicting unnecessary harm on so many Maryland families.