justice denied, justice delayed

since hearing a little after 1pm (9.29.09) my time today that Judge Jordan (Federal Judge in Florida) sided with the hospital (Jackson Memorial Hospital – Ryder Trauma Center)

my world has crumbled, my heart was stabbed just like watching Lisa collapsing all over again on the Rfamily cruise on 2/18/07

words of encouragement have poured in from friends, family and others to say “hang in there -the fight is just starting”.

and then our son David – saying “mom that’s messed up – if we were here in Group Health we could have been with other mom but because we were in Florida we couldn’t – how is that fair – shouldn’t the laws me the same in all the states” he is only 14 and has some learning delays – what does that say about our society, our laws, and how we wrong others every day if my 14 year old son can see it’s “not fair”

I honestly don’t know how I pick myself up and put on a brave face for public speaking that has always been very trying and hard for me even before this decision – now it will be augmented with an asterisk that says *but she failed in court*

I know there are people who disagreed that I should never have filed the lawsuit to begin with, that to let the dead lay in rest.  I couldn’t – I never could – I always picked at those wounds on my arms or face hoping for a different outcome.  Speaking out about the inequality we faced was no difference.

the kids are in bed, the house is quiet and now I’m stuck with my thoughts with the overwhelming feeling of failure of not only NOT being at Lisa side but also not prevailing to change policy so other family’s didn’t have to face what we did.

Yes I try to remember the 1000’s of people who have read about or heard me speak or the 4 people’s lives that Lisa saved but none of that right at this very moment comfort me.

I was selfish I wanted to win so that – you – gay or straight – could be with your loved one as well as bring in your children to hold you loved ones hand while they could sense you – so that you could begin the grieving process – but all was for not.  I am sorry.

The one thing I am not sorry about in the least is for Lambda Legal taking our case, listening to me for hours – assigning Beth Littrell and co-counsel Don Hayden to our case – our case was in the best of hand.  I couldn’t have hoped for better, caring, legal minds on our case.  My sense of failure has NOTHING to do with my representation – but solely with me.  Thank you all from Lambda  – Beth, Lisa, Jon, Tika, Erin, Don H., Kevin, Jon, Judi, Rick and so many others who have been there every step of the way – and if I forgot anyone forgive me.

And again thank you to Rosie and Kelli O’Donnell for their continued support.

peace always

our lisa:

Lisa - April 2006

31 thoughts on “justice denied, justice delayed

  1. Oh Janice, you mustn’t, musn’t feel any sense of failure, particularly on behalf of anyone. I have no idea how the law works, beyond knowing that it rarely aligns with justice in a clear way. Technicalities, biases, so on.

    Also, it seems that this issue might be able to be taken further? Or retried? If anyone (you, your children?) could bear it again?

    That is only for you and those who support you to know, of course.

    But please know how many of us, from afar, admire your seeking justice on behalf of other grieving and bereaved families. All of us have read your story and been gripped with the horror of thinking what it would have been like to have lived through that. Those of us who know sudden or tragic loss of a partner have felt this even deeper. So your brave journey with the lawsuit is very much felt as a courageous gesture on all our behalves, so that such a grievous injustice wouldn’t happen again.

    The fight will surely continue, and on your behalf, too. I know that the words of yet one more stranger won’t smooth over the pain, but I wanted to pile a few more up, just for you to know they’re there.

    Thank you so much for what you’ve done for us all, simply by being a loving partner to Lisa and a loving mother to your children.

      1. Mau Stevenson

        Please tell us how we can continue this fight. More than one person I know is utterly outraged at this miscarriage of justice and we would all like to do something to help, in whatever way we can.

        I’m so sorry this has happened to you.

      2. gwyn pasterchek

        Janice what can we do to help? Please post a blog about what steps a common citizen can take. Who do we contact? What organizations are working in Florida to change these laws?
        Your story and my family’s conservative stance has me feeling helpless in this fight. Please let us all know what to do to help you fight.
        gwyn pasterchek

  2. Becky

    Thank you so much for pushing the lawsuit and persevering. My heart goes out to you. You have a great family and are doing everything for your kids! Our justice system fails many of us. It’s not a personal failure. Each setback pushes us on to a higher level of trying. All the best.

  3. I’m so very sorry for your loss, and also for the heartless short-sightedness of the hospital administration, the justices of the court, and this decision. I don’t know how they can sleep at night. Please know that your efforts on behalf of the community of GLBT and straight families are not in vain. This fight is just starting.

    May Lisa’s memory be a blessing to you and to your children.

  4. Kathleen

    Sometimes when something bad happens to us we assume the responsibility for what happened to us. This failure is not yours. The failure belongs to an inhumane and archaic system that in it’s self righteousness declares its right to disregard, dismiss and dehumanize other people. You have done and continue to do what you can do. We, the rest of us must work together to see that laws, policies and practices are changed and then stay vigilant to insure that they do not slip back into the darkness of ignorance, fear and hatred.

    I am so sorry for what you and your family have been put through. I am so proud of you for taking on the systems and for speaking up about this ugly, ugly incident. Blessings
    Kathleen Saadat

  5. Brian

    Thank you so much for fighting for your family and all of our families. Even if you haven’t won in court, you have won a lot – I know I personally have told your story to countless people and it really helps bring out the issue of discrimination. Talking to people about issues like this will eventually lead to change.

    And despite the legal setback, I humbly suggest there are other ways to impact this hospital. It is a teaching hospital within the University of Miami. It needs alumni/donor money and a pipeline of medical students and residents. Perhaps you could use any media attention to ask anybody considering medical school or any alumni donors whether they really want to make a major investment in a school that treats the families of its patients so harshly. Sort of a hit them where it hurts approach. Just a thought.

    I am again, so sorry for your loss, but so grateful that you are standing up for the dignity of your family and all families.

  6. Mariann

    As a nurse this sickens and saddens me that this happened to you. My thoughts and condolences are with you and your family. I can not believe that people would let their stupid, bigoted prejudice prevent you from being at Lisa’s side. I will be sending all of my good karma your way, and I hope that all of the people who stopped you from being there and the judge that made this idiotic decision reap what they have sown!!!!

  7. Celya

    I am so sorry for your loss, I just read your story. I want to tell you that you are a strong individual and my prayers go out to you and your family. It’s hard to have justice in this country but there is hope…. I am married and these kind of situations are always in the back of my mind because we as individuals, citizens, people and humans don’t get rights as we should. It’s time we fight back because this shouldn’t be happening… Keep strong.

  8. Tanene

    Janice –

    Thank you for all that you have done. The injustice of what happened to you and your family, and in the court’s response to it, has become a powerful and painful force of education. I’ve retold your story many times and it never fails to shock and surprise people, from LGBT folks to those who have no idea how real discrimination is. In light of what happened to you, no one can anymore live in the ignorance that discrimination is not real, or that the laws are just and will protect us. I have faith that things will eventually change and, when they do, you and your family will be some of the leaders who have put their own lives to use for a greater cause and justice that hopefully will someday prevent others from having to suffer as you have.

    Thank you again, so much, for all that you have done.


  9. That this happened to you and your family is tragic. We all want to believe in the basic goodness and fairness of society and that when there is injustice, we trust that the court system will make it right. To hear of this is just shocking and for your family must be unbearable.

    Please lean on each other and your friends and keep telling your story. So many closed-minded people think that discrimination against the LGBT community is non-existent. They have NO IDEA, and more importantly they have no idea of the magnitude of the ways it exists and affects the lives of real people like you.

  10. Jim

    Please accept my condolences and know that I share your disappointment in the court’s decision.

    Maybe you have already looked into this, but there is an organization, “The Joint Commission” also known as JCAHO that accredits hospitals. According to their website, patient rights is one of their primary concerns. I would think that ignoring a patient’s valid health care power of attorney, and delaying visitation by the designated poa would be a major violation of Joint Commission standards. I don’t know if you or your attorney has made an attempt to contact JCAHO directly – and I don’t know if they respond to such complaints. At the very least, the quality control officer at the hospital should have had to write up an internal report responding to your complaint to the hospital (the incident appears to be in violation of Joint Commission standards.) And that incident report should be available to the joint commission.

    I’m sure they wouldn’t pull the hospital’s accreditation because of that, but the hospital should have to answer to SOMEONE for this gross violation of Lisa’s rights.

    Again, I am so sorry.

  11. Mara

    I can’t even begin to imagine what you’re going through.. I’m crying just reading this. My sincerest thoughts and hugs and warm wishes go to you and your family.

    Thank you for speaking up and fighting. I hope they reap what they sow, because what they did was disgusting.

  12. mj

    I am so sorry about this most recent setback. Please don’t apologize for honoring your partner and fighting for your family. You are fighting for all of us. I have been in the ER several times and perhaps I am naive not to have worried much about my partner not being allowed to be with me, as we have lived in Maryland and Massachusetts, two states with laws that treat us equally in a hospital setting. (Maryland has far to go in other matters, but has medical decision-making right.) No one has even asked to see the POA. We are hesitant to travel outside of the northeast or west coast US though, for fear of experiencing what you did. I admire you for having the strength to keep fighting. We will win this battle someday. I am sorry that it will come too late for you and Lisa. Know that despite setbacks like this week’s, your work will help other families be together during future medical crises.

  13. Paul

    Dear Janice,

    First, I am so sorry for your loss of Lisa and the tragedy surrounding her departure.

    Second, thank you so much for fighting this in court! I know you ‘lost’ but this fight is not over. This only highlights the depravity of GLBTQ discrimination in the USA.

    I am a RN and this goes against every ethical concept taught in nursing schools as well as medical schools.

    Iam also an expatriate living in Canada becuase I just could not take anymore discrimination on a daily basis.

    This news of your court case has inflamed my very soul. It made me cry. But whenever something reaches my very depths, it only makes me fight harder.

    This is not over. I will do everything I can to keep this alive until justice is served for you and Lisa, your children as well as for the greater GLBTQ community.

    Thanks again and no YOU DID NOT FAIL. You are my hero right now. xoxox

  14. Janice,
    I cannot begin to say how sorry I am for your loss of Lisa and for the treatment you received from the hospital that should have been helping not only Lisa but her family. Their treatment of you and your children was shameless. I am a nurse and I find it horrifying that someone did not come to your aid during this time.

    I am married to a transwoman and we travel with our legal papers, as you do, but know that someone who is prejudiced could cause us problems in a health care crisis.

    Please know that you did NOT fail. You were failed by a hospital and legal system that is very prejudiced.

    You are in my thoughts as you go through this difficult time.
    Kay and Sarah

  15. Michelle Miller

    Janice, you have my deepest condolences, and I sincerely hope you can set the rest of us a SERIOUS precedent here on the care & comfort of our loved ones when they’re in a time of need.

    As hopeful as that sounds, I’m sure I speak for the rest of the folks who’ve posted so far when I say that we all wish it didn’t have to come at so high of a price for you and your children.

  16. cathy

    I am so sorry for this additional loss on top of your previous devastating loss. Just know that a lot of us have followed your story. I posted this story on my FB page today to educate people on why marriage matters. I appreciate you standing up to a messed up system. You did everything you could and Florida is just a notoriously homophobic state. Please know what you did is appreciated.
    My best to you and your family.

  17. Janice,

    I am so terribly sorry for your loss. It is shameful what that hospital put you through..and Lisa. It saddens me and I am horrified.

    I have written to the hospital. I am straight and married…we totally support gay marriage and equal rights for lesbians and gays. I will continue to be vocal and plan to post on my site.

    Again…you are brave and I am proud of you for filing the lawsuit.



  18. Samantha

    YOU didn’t fail in court, the COURT failed you and your family and all of the families who do not fit the standard set-up.

    Again, YOU didn’t fail. YOU fought the good fight and you are on the side of RIGHT.

  19. Janice – Can you appeal the ruling? You have not failed at anything – it broke my heart when I read you are feeling like a failure. What you have been through and how you have handled all that has happened. I think you are a special kind of hero.

  20. This injustice shows me the depravity of the court system in Florida.

    These so-called “Christians” are the most immoral and degenerate people I’ve ever come across!

    I hope you and your legal team are able to take the case all the way up to the US Supreme Court, because the bigots in the lower court need to be given a huge rebuke by SCOTUS!

  21. Bonnie Brodner

    My heart sooo goes out to you and your family. A friend of mine posted your story on Facebook, and there are so many of us that are so completely outraged by this. It is such a terrible, horrible miscarriage of justice. I do hope you take it to the U.S. Supreme Court, but if you don’t I certainly can understand that.

    I am VERY saddened that you are blaming yourself – it is a failure of our society, our justice system – NOT you ….. I do hope whatever happens you see your way clear of self-blame …. what a terrible tragedy you went, and continue to go through all the time. It must make it so much worse if you really do blame yourself for any of it.

    I marched in Washington D.C. yesterday, and I thought of you and Lisa a lot while going past the White House, and approaching the Capital. Without national Gay Marriage this could happen to anybody, and I am so grateful that you have pushed this as far as you have, as hard as it must be, so people can put a face on our cause.

    I wish you peace ………..

  22. Pingback: Lesbian partner denied visitation by hospital loses lawsuit, but battles on

  23. Dianna Wirtjes

    What a story. Thank you for sharing. We live in California we were married in 2008 and are a part of the 18,000 legally married women awaiting the status on our marriage validity. We are 62 and 51. We have waited 22 years to have a legal status. We also have “our story” to add to the millions of discrimination stories of other disenfranchised “American Citizens” with no human or civil rights.
    Thank you again for sharing. Keep the faith.

  24. Dianna Wirtjes

    above sorry I left out some words. part of the 18,000 legally married women “and men” awaiting the status. Sorry. Was just typing too quickly.

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