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Posted on October 12, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 12 at 4:12 PM


Janice Langbehn spent part of Wednesday afternoon on the phone, ironing out her travel plans to Washington, D.C. next week. She just learned she’ll be receiving a special award from the president.

“The president and the committee believes I’m an outstanding citizen, one of just 13 this year,” said Langbehn. “It’s really hard to put into words.”

Four years ago, during a family vacation, Langbehn’s partner, Lisa Pond, collapsed from a brain aneurysm and was rushed to the hospital. When Langbehn and their children were refused access to her partner at a Miami hospital, Pond died alone.

“To go to Miami, and be told you have no relation, you have no significance in her life, even with legal documents being her power of attorney, and be dismissed by a social worker, and I’m a social worker, just cut me to the core,” said Langbehn.

She filed a federal lawsuit that was dismissed. But hearing her story, President Obama revised hospital visitation rights for gay couples.

The mother of four adopted children continues to speak out for all Americans to be treated equally.

The award has bittersweet timing. Today marks the 20-year anniversary of Langbehn and Pond’s holy union.

Looking back, she hopes Pond would be proud, not only for her fight for equal rights, but what she’s taught their children.

“I wanted to teach our children, if you are discriminated against, if you are wronged, speak up for yourself,” she said.

Langbehn will received the Citizens Medal at the White House on Thursday.

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