The president’s memorandum allows patients to choose their visitors and designate those making their medical decisions regardless of, among other things, sexual orientation.
Parsons’ April 16 statement outlined General Assembly policy dating to 1978 that advocates equal protections for all Americans and declares: “We are all children of God with inherent rights and human dignity.”
Surveys indicate that the vast majority of the faith community, and the nation at large, support such measures. A December 2008 poll found that 86% support hospital visitation rights for gay and lesbian domestic partners.
The full text of Parsons’ statement:
“I commend President Obama’s April 15 memo directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make appropriate rules to ‘ensure that hospitals … respect the rights of patients to designate visitors.’ In particular, I applaud the new protection and comfort that this directive will afford to widows and widowers, members of religious orders, and members of same-gender couples.
“The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has long supported equal access to civil rights for all our sisters and brothers. Indeed, in 1978, the Presbyterian General Assembly wrote ‘there is no legal, social, or moral justification for denying homosexual persons access to the basic requirements of human social existence.’ We are all children of God with inherent rights and human dignity.
“Presbyterian General Assemblies have urged the passage of laws to prohibit discrimination based on the sexual orientation of a person in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations. Most recently, the 218th General Assembly (2008) ‘renewed and strengthened the long-standing Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) commitment to equal protection under the law for lesbian and gay persons … and their children.’
“Understanding the church’s pastoral responsibility to the whole human person – body, mind and soul – and the hospital’s vital role in providing care for the body and mind, we affirm that the spiritual dimension of hospitality and healing in our hospitals must include the loved ones of anyone who suffers.”
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