Ann Simonelli and Brittney Leon
Lesbian Couple Face Discrimination at Nevada Hospital

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com August 21 2012 3:21 PM ET

Nevada woman Brittney Leon was experiencing complications from pregnancy when she checked into Spring Valley Hospital on July 20. When her domestic partner, Ann Simonelli, attempted to fulfil her role as a good partner by confirming that she could make any necessary medical decisions in a difficult situation, Simonelli was told she could not, because the couple did not possess a power of attorney.

Even when the couple said they were registered domestic partners, a hospital administrator told them that their policy required a medical power of attorney, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. According to the article, the hospital had no problem accepting Leon's insurance, which was through Simonelli's employer. The article also pointed to the Obama administration's directive through the Department of Health and Human Services, mandating certain rights for same-sex couples in terms of hospital care.

Leon's doctor kept Simonelli updated on Leon's progress, because the doctor knew the couple's situation. Simonelli and Leon also said other medical professionals were kind to them. However, a 90-minute period lapsed in which Simonelli was not told about her partner's difficulties, including a large loss of blood. During the complicated hospital stay, Leon lost the child.

A woman who said she was the hospital's spokesperson told the Review-Journal that gay couples must have a power of attorney in order to make certain decisions. When the reporter asked her whether that policy violated the Obama administration's directive, the spokeswoman reportedly hung up the phone without answering the question.

"We went there thinking we had the state's backing, and then we were told we were wrong," Simonelli said. "It didn't matter that we were registered domestic partners. It should matter."

Simonelli and Leon said they would not press charges or report the hospital's mismanagement, but said they hoped more would be done to help gay and lesbian couples facing the same problems they had to endure.