Imagine meeting someone, falling in love with them, and then spending your lives together. Now imagine when tragedy strikes and your significant other is left in critical condition or even worse death, and you have no legal rights to see them in the hospital or even go to their funeral. This is the unfortunate reality for many gay couples around the U.S today.
Shane Bitney Crone and Karen Thompson were victims when traumatic events led their same-sex partners to be in horrific accidents and one ended up fatal. Shane Crone was in a commited relationship with Thomas Bridegroom until a misstep off of a roof ended in a tragic death. Bridegroom’s family did not support their loved one’s relationship and cut off everything from Crone. Crone could not see Bridegroom in his final moments at the hospital or even attend his funeral. Crone was left devastated, his life in complete shambles, made a documentary to show that this very real situation can happen to anyone.
Flashback to twenty years ago when Karen Thompson partner, Sharon Kowalski was hit by a drunk driver leaving her with severe brain damage. Sharon Kowalski’s family didn’t find out about her four year relationship with Thompson until after the accident and just like Birdegroom’s family, the Kowalski’s didn’t want Karen Thompson to be any part of her recovery. They wanted Thompson to be completely erased from her life. Kowalski’s father took guardianship over his daughter, and himself as well as the court refused her request to be in Thompson’s care saying that she was “incompetent” of making her own decisions. Her father moved her into a nursing home, instead of a rehab center 200 miles away from Thompson and denied any visitation rights. After eight years of a lengthy legal battle, Thompson finally gained guardianship over her partner.
You may be asking yourself why these sad stories for this blog? These stories tie into ethical issues in Death & Dying. In my opinion it was extremely unethical for these families to push away what their own children had wanted because they thought that there beliefs were above their flesh and blood. Not only that, but these stories stress the importance of having an advanced directive. If Bridegroom or Kowalski had a living will there might have been a little light in lieu of their accidents and for their partners sake. Also, one of the biggest reasons these couples didn’t have more say was because they were only in a “partnership” because they could not get married. Therefore, the courts and the hospital’s could not give either partner proper rights. Some of us really need to get the picture when it comes to not only our own lives, but the social problems surrounding us as well.