My husband was admitted to the hospital Thursday night with chest pains. I dropped him off at the entrance to the emergency room and he was sent to triage where they took his vitals. I parked the car and ran into the ER to find him and make sure he was alright.
I uttered this declaration to the triage nurse: “I’m his wife.“ And just like that, I was allowed to go back and be with him throughout the entire process, save for the ex-rays and ultrasounds. I was also able to fill out his insurance information for him while he was examined, which I would not have been able to do if we were not married. He’s fine, thank goodness. They think it was probably a esophageal spasm, which can sometimes mimic the symptoms of a heart attack. Whew!
Now I am sure that there are hospitals that let girlfriends or domestic partners have the same privileges as married couples. But if they did not, a person would have no legal ground to stand on to force them to do otherwise absent a law giving a person the right to be with their partner in a medical emergency. My point is simple: In a hospital emergency, there are only 4 words that mean anything: spouse, parent, child, or sibling. Other than adoption, marriage is the only way to create a “next-of-kin” relationship with someone that is not a blood relative. Unfortunately we have not yet reached the Promised Land where all couples have equal rights – I hope we get there someday soon.