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Nevada lesbian couple lose baby after hospital admissions argument

A Henderson, Nev. hospital is sticking to a policy requiring same-sex couples to secure a power of attorney before making medical decisions for each other, despite a state law granting registered domestic partnerships the same rights as married couples.

Brittney Leon and Terri-Ann Simonelli checked into Spring Valley Hospital, July 20, with complications in Leon’s pregnancy. During the admissions process, the hospital accepted the couple’s health insurance which covers Leon through Simonelli’s work, but they would not allow Simonelli to be declared power of attorney if she suffered unforeseen problems.

The couple protested, and offering to retrieve their certificate of domestic partnership, but were told it would not be sufficient. Under the extreme stress of the health issues, the couple was not in the position to run to a lawyer and secure the agreement.

Leon ended up losing the baby.

“I am usually a big fighter. But I was so emotionally upset. It was a very bad day for us,” Simonelli told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We went there thinking we had the state’s backing, and then we were told we were wrong. It didn’t matter that we were registered domestic partners … It should matter.”

A hospital representative told the newspaper that their policy requires gay couples have power of attorney in order to make medical decisions for each other. When asked if she was aware of Nevada’s domestic-partnership law, she accused the reporter of bias and hung up the telephone.

Nevada’s law reads: “Domestic partners have the same rights, protections and benefits, and are subject to the same responsibilities, obligations and duties under law, whether derived from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses.”

There is no penalty for an entity not providing the rights and benefits to same-sex couples. The couple’s case has at least one lawmaker considering a bill to “add teeth” to the law.

“What really happens now if they deny your rights? Not much,” Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, told the Review-Journal. “We need a remedy.”

The couple does not wish to file a complaint, but hope their story makes others aware of the need for change.

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6 Comments

  1. It is important when you are a couple to know what rights you have and don't have and what hoops you must go through that a marriage would otherwise take care of. Financial powers of attorney, medical powers of attorney and wills are but a few things to consider, especially when bringing a child into the family. This case shows that domestic partnership laws are inadequate.

  2. This is Outrageous. .

    This is NOT JUST a shameless plug. BUT this is why here at Ford & Huff, LC we have built an entire LGBT Partnership Package specifically for Utah couples.

    Our LGBT Partnership Package is one stop shopping that allows you to have all of the Legal agreements, Trusts, Partnership agreements, powers of attorney, Child custody and partnership rights agreements, Property agreements, etc. all drawn up at the same time.

    It is a very crapy thing that has happened to this couple. I would never want to see this happen to one of my friends.

    If you're in a partnership, and you're contemplating marriage, and you want to have more protection than just being shacked up, come see us.

    James K. Ord III Esq.
    Ford & Huff, LC
    10542 South Jordan Gateway, Suite 300
    South Jordan, Utah 84095
    Phone: 801.407.8555 | Fax: 877.629.6734
    Email: [email protected] | Website: http://www.fordhuff.com

  3. I was trying to explain these issues to my Republican friend that didn't really understand why it is so important for the gay and lesbian community to have the same rights of marriage as the rest of us. I thought it was funny because he, himself, is married 🙂

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