A lesbian activist from the United States will be awarded a
prestigious honour at the White House, it has been
Officials with the Obama administration confirmed today that
Janice Langbehn - the lesbian who was denied access to her dying
wife by hospital officials in Miami - is one of thirteen people who
will receive the award.
The Citizens Medal is the nation's second-highest civilian honor.
Established in 1969, it salutes "American citizens who have
performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their
fellow citizens," according to a White House press release.
Langbehn became a prominent activist in 2007 when - during a
holiday in Miami with her partner, Lisa Pond, and their two
children - Pond collapsed and was rushed to Jackson Memorial
hospital. When Langbehn arrived, she was told by a hospital worker
that she was in "an anti-gay city and state" and was denied access
to the ward.
Langbehn had a power of attorney faxed to the hospital within an
hour of Pond's arrival, but they were denied access for eight
hours. Pond slipped into a coma from a brain aneurysm and died
without her partner of 18 years or her children by her side.
With the help of Lambda Legal, Langbehn filed a case against the
hospital which attracted national headlines in 2008.
Although the case was eventually dismissed, the hospital did
change its policy on LGBT visitors and the move sparked a wider,
national debate on the issue.
Two days after the changes were announced, President Obama called
Langbehn from Air Force One to apologize for the way her family had
According to the statement released by the White House, Langbehn
will receive the honour in recognition of "her efforts to ensure
all Americans are treated equally".