Why A Power Of Attorney Is No Substitute For Marriage When A Loved One Is In The Hospital

In comments, On Lawn wrote:

Laws don’t regulate who can and who can’t be visited by their beloved, hospitals do.

That’s a nice theory, but not how it works in real life. Hospitals can to a significant degree be regulated by public policy (hence the law being discussed in Wisconsin; hence Obama’s recent executive order, which is nice, but which can be undone the moment a Republican takes office as president).

…there are other ways to get that recognition still. Not having a DP registry does not stop a same-sex couple from obtaining visitation rights, it is not substantially a marriage benefit (as Anna noted).

The “other ways,” as I understand it, are legal papers: health care proxies, power of attorney, and so forth. But in practice, lesbian and gay couples have found again and again that legal papers aren’t reliable when they’re needed most.

For example, Sharon Reed and JoAnn Ritchie, partners for 17 years, had mutual power of attorney when JoAnn went to the hospital; they even had the paperwork with them. That didn’t keep a nurse who disapproved of lesbian relationships from refusing Sharon access to JoAnn’s room and bedside. JoAnn’s final conscious hours were spent without Sharon; by the time Sharon was allowed back into the room, the next day, JoAnn couldn’t be revived. JoAnn died not long after.

Another example: Janice Langbehn and Lisa Marie Pond and their children were on vacation in Florida when Lisa had an aneurysm. They each had granted the other power of attorney, but the Florida hospital chose not to recognize it for eight hours. For eight hours, Lisa lay dying alone in the hospital, while her spouse and children were forbidden contact with her. The usual counseling services that the hospital routinely provides for relatives of dying patients, were not offered to Lisa’s family. “Jackson Memorial social worker Defendant Frederick approached Janice and informed her that she should not expect to be provided any information on the condition of, or have the ability to be with Lisa Marie as they were in an ‘anti-gay city and state.’”

There are many more examples. Kristin Orbin and Teresa Rowe. Sharon Kowalski and Karen Thompson. Carol Conklin and Janet Peck. Bill Flanigan and Robert Daniel. Trey and Guy. Steve, forced into a sham marriage with a woman who robbed him, just to have control of his own medical treatment.

According to lgbt rights advocate Carissa Cunningham, these are not rare, isolated examples. “It’s very routine. It happens all the time.”

Andrew Sullivan writes:

When people talk about marriage as some kind of abstract matter, an interesting debate to be had, an issue to be discussed, they forget the actual, brutal consequences of laws that treat gay families as non-families and gay people as sub-human.

Heterosexuals have the luxury of believing that same-sex couples can just sign some legal papers printed out from a website and — poof! — the problems disappear. But the real-life experience of same sex couples show that legal papers are not a reliable solution when a loved one is critically ill. Trey writes:

Nearly everyone I know has a story of denied visitation rights, or ‘family’ swooping down and forcing health decisions against a partner’s wishes or contesting (often successfully) wills, or even walking into shared homes and taking things out. There almost isn’t a gay or lesbian couple (ok, i’m sure there are a few, somewhere) out there that doesn’t at least occasionally wonder or are concerned about one of their family members (we have one in our family) who would make life hell for the partner if their ‘family’ member became sick or died.. taking away health decisions or making life impossible after losing their loved one. The fact of the matter is, courts and law STILL overwhelmingly favors ‘blood’ relatives or ‘married’ spouses over the partners of gays and lesbians. Even wills and legal documents are superseded by ‘family’ law in many cases.

From the Florida Sun-Sentinal:

Wills, power of attorney papers and cohabitation agreements can create some protections of marriage. For $1,500 to $3,500 in legal bills, gay couples can guarantee they have the right to visit each other in the hospital, that property is split equitably if they break up and that the surviving partner inherits when the other dies.

Attorneys say such legal documents, which can be challenged in court, provide only the bare bones of the security that comes with marriage.

“Lawyers can only fashion remedies in haphazard ways,” said Dean Trantalis, a Fort Lauderdale city commissioner and gay rights activist who draws up such documents as part of his law practice. “The law uses marriage as a guideline to provide rights and impose responsibilities. There is an undue burden on same-sex couples.” …

One of the primary functions of marriage is to make two unrelated adults into close kin; that creates mutual responsibilities, but it also makes a family that courtrooms, police, hospitals and other crucial institutions of society are obliged to acknowledge. Right now, heterosexuals are able to point to their life partner and say “this person, this person here – s/he’s now my closest family in the world, for all legal purposes” and (99.99% of the time) make it stick. Lesbians and gays don’t have that right. And real-life experience shows that the ability to write up a personalized contract is no match for being a legally recognized family.

This entry posted in crossposted on TADA, Same-Sex Marriage. Bookmark the permalink. 

64 Responses to Why A Power Of Attorney Is No Substitute For Marriage When A Loved One Is In The Hospital

  1. 1
    RonF says:

    Nearly everyone I know has a story of denied visitation rights, or ‘family’ swooping down and forcing health decisions against a partner’s wishes or contesting (often successfully) wills, or even walking into shared homes and taking things out. There almost isn’t a gay or lesbian couple (ok, i’m sure there are a few, somewhere) out there that doesn’t at least occasionally wonder or are concerned about one of their family members (we have one in our family) who would make life hell for the partner if their ‘family’ member became sick or died.. taking away health decisions or making life impossible after losing their loved one. The fact of the matter is, courts and law STILL overwhelmingly favors ‘blood’ relatives or ‘married’ spouses over the partners of gays and lesbians. Even wills and legal documents are superseded by ‘family’ law in many cases.

    So the usage of quotes in this is a presentable example, but the usage of quotes to refer to gay ‘marriage’ isn’t? I find the former as offensive as you find the latter.

  2. 2
    Emily says:

    It offends you that some gay people whose families have been mean and horrible to them over being gay don’t consider the people the law recognizes as their family to be their true family? That’s what I think the quote marks are there for. The “family” who disowned you, won’t acknowledge your spouse, doesn’t respect your choices, and continues to make your life difficult is considered your family by the law, when the person you’ve chosen to build a life with isn’t. That’s why there’s quote marks. How is that offensive to you?

  3. 3
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    This is true. Regrettable, but true.

    But nothing can be done to stop family from being assholes. The concept that family will swoop in and take over medical decisions? The concept that people will visit the home of a dead person and help themselves to the stuff, thus stealing it from the rightful heir? That happens all the time; i have plenty of anecdotes as well. And not just to gay people, mind you: it happens between siblings and exes and in laws and long marriages and new marriages and so on. Straight and gay alike.

    When family doesn’t like a spouse/partner/live-in-lover/child, then they act horribly. When they don’t like a relationship, they don’t respect it. When they don’t like the person in trouble (or who has died,) they don’t follow his/her wishes. The unpleasant reality is that because gays suffer extra discrimination, they’re more often in the “don’t like” category. But that’s an application of a normal experience; it’s not a gay-only thing.

    Similarly, there’s no way to control third parties being assholes, other than by law. You can constrain behavior but only a bit. Doctors who will ignore a partnership certificate and refuse to look at a power of attorney without a lawsuit, will ignore a marriage certificate and refuse to look at a marriage license without a lawsuit. Nurses in Georgia who are willing to ignore their gay patients’ wishes in a health care proxy and let them die alone, aren’t magically going to follow their gay patients’ wishes when they tell them they’ve been married in Massachusetts.

    There are a variety of solutions to the problem, of which one excellent solution is a catch-all bundle of rights: marriage. But that is only one way to solve the problem.

    Personally I’m a huge fan of enforceable contracts and free choice, so I’d be ecstatic if this resulted in having contractual-designate laws with teeth. But as someone who believes that many of those rights should be able to exist outside of marriage (straight or gay,) I’m not comfortable with the proposition that the only way to get them is marriage.

  4. 4
    Myca says:

    So the usage of quotes in this is a presentable example, but the usage of quotes to refer to gay ‘marriage’ isn’t? I find the former as offensive as you find the latter.

    This is what you find unjust in this post? How inhuman.

    —Myca

  5. 5
    Grace Annam says:

    RonF wrote:

    So the usage of quotes in this is a presentable example, but the usage of quotes to refer to gay ‘marriage’ isn’t? I find the former as offensive as you find the latter.

    Yes.

    In this case, the quotes call into question the label as applied in a specific instance, where the blood relations of a wounded person are contradicting the medical decisions of the person’s chosen life partner.

    In your contrasting case, such quotes are generally used to call into question the label between people of the same perceived sex as a concept. In other words, they connote a challenge of the right of people perceived to be the same sex to marry their life partners at all. Many times, I have seen quotes around the word used to cast aspersions on marriages which were legal, but not legitimate in the eyes of the writer.

    The cases are distinguishable, not parallel.

    Grace

  6. 6
    fannie says:

    On Lawn says, “Laws don’t regulate who can and who can’t be visited by their beloved, hospitals do” and, at Family Scholars Blog, he also suggests that people create their own advanced directives without the use of an attorney, using forms found on the internet.

    As an attorney myself, I think it’s generally not a great idea for people, especially LGBT people, to take legal advice from anti-gay, non-attorney commenters on the internets, especially about a matter as important as hospital visitation. For one, laws regarding advanced directives vary in each state, rendering some “all-purpose” forms found on the internet legally invalid.

    Two, FWIW, I’m not convinced On Lawn is speaking from a place of concern, experience, empathy, or expertise about what actually happens to many LGBT families in hospitals, with or without the use of advanced directives.

    [Edited for clarity]

  7. 7
    RonF says:

    Hey, Myca – fair enough. I didn’t address the main point of the posting, so I will. It’s pretty $hitty when someone who’s been in a long-term relationship finds themselves ignored by their significant others’ family or by an institution in crisis situations. It’s not good for either of the people in the relationship. It’s not limited to homosexual relationships, either. There’s plenty of heterosexual relationships this has occurred in. In fact, ask around and I’ll bet you get horror stories of what families have done to obstruct and defraud surviving members of actual marriages.

    So, while I don’t favor redefining marriage, I also don’t favor institutions and families preventing people from exercising their legal privileges. If someone wanted to put forward a bill that exacted penalties against institutions or people that ignored or denied this kind of thing – regardless of the sexual orientation of the people involved – I’d definitely support it.

  8. 8
    james says:

    The fact of the matter is, courts and law STILL overwhelmingly favors ‘blood’ relatives or ‘married’ spouses over the partners of gays and lesbians. Even wills and legal documents are superseded by ‘family’ law in many cases.

    This is a bit weird. Is he saying that in the cases of someone who is married, but has separated and written up will for the benefit of their new partner, the courts should ignore the marriage and favour the new partner? Seems to be going against the whole importance of marriage as an obligation others have to acknowledge theme of the post.

  9. 9
    MisterMephisto says:

    james said:

    This is a bit weird. Is he saying that in the cases of someone who is married, but has separated and written up will for the benefit of their new partner, the courts should ignore the marriage and favour the new partner? Seems to be going against the whole importance of marriage as an obligation others have to acknowledge theme of the post.

    What he’s saying is: should sham-marriage-partners-with-an-unethical-agenda or marriages-in-the-throes-of-(potentially-bitter-)divorce have priority over your chosen partner when it comes to visitation and care decisions?

    If I’m in the midst of a divorce, and I’ve changed my will and had my power-of-attorney signed over to my new partner, should my soon-to-be-ex-wife get to swoop in, take all my shit, and make sure my dangling-by-a-thread life gets risked in a fashion I (and theoretically my new partner, on my behalf) would have objected to?

    And the only honest answer to that is: “No. That’s pretty F’ed up. Who would want that to happen to anyone?”

    And the only honest answer to that subsequent question is: “Clearly anti-SSM apologists.”

  10. 10
    Elusis says:

    If someone wanted to put forward a bill that exacted penalties against institutions or people that ignored or denied this kind of thing – regardless of the sexual orientation of the people involved – I’d definitely support it.

    Which still fails to address the disproportionate cost and burden same-sex couples face in achieving the sort of protections that can be had by an opposite-sex couple for a $50 marriage license.

  11. 11
    Bear says:

    It really drives me up a wall when folks use the “but that happens to hetero couples too” canard. It’s like when folks try to trivialize anti-gay bullying by claiming that straight kids get bullied too. It’s not the same thing. The occasional incidence of something happening to straight people does not equal the institutional practice of the same thing happening to gay people.

  12. 12
    Grace Annam says:

    It’s not limited to homosexual relationships, either. There’s plenty of heterosexual relationships this has occurred in. In fact, ask around and I’ll bet you get horror stories of what families have done to obstruct and defraud surviving members of actual marriages.

    When a group of people is discussing issues around rape of women, it is a virtual certainty that someone will pipe up and say, “But men get raped, too!” Variables which make this more probable are length of discussion, public access to the discussion, presence in the discussion of men generally (strong effect) and MRA activists specifically (overwhelming effect). As these factors rise toward infinity, the probability of this comment happening approaches one.

    It’s true. Men get sexually assaulted. When I was male-bodied, I was sexually assaulted. It happens. It’s awful. It’s different for men in our society than it is for women, and in a few ways it’s harder.

    It’s also beside the point.

    Grace

  13. 13
    Hugh says:

    The fact that this can happen to straight couples doesn’t address the point. But the fact that doctors and nurses who ignore powers of attorney may very well ignore marriages does indeed address the point.

    The OP said “But the real-life experience of same sex couples show that legal papers are not a reliable solution when a loved one is critically ill”.

    Marriage is nothing more than another set of legal papers.

  14. 14
    Robert says:

    That’s true Hugh but I think the marriage power is going to open a few more doors for people having such conflicts.

    “Officer, the hospital won’t let me in to visit my boyfriend, but I have papers that say they have to!”
    “OK, go talk to a judge.”

    vs.

    “Officer, the hospital won’t let me in to visit my wife.”
    “Really? Well, let’s go talk to them then.”

  15. 15
    Dianne says:

    My understanding of power of attorney law is that designating someone your POA trumps everything else. And a health care POA can be anyone. If you designate Newt Gingrich as your POA then the hospital is required to seek out Newt and get his opinion on your medical care if you are not in a position to decide yourself and that it is only if he refuses that the usual hierarchy comes into play. So I don’t understand how hospitals can be ignoring designated POA.

    Even less do I understand WHY they would do such a thing. In my experience, it is rare to have too many people willing to act as POA for an unconscious or incompetent person and turning someone away who knows the person’s wishes and is trying to carry them out is insane! Talk about making more work for yourself. How did the hospital in Florida get consent for procedures on Pond during those 8 hours they refused to acknowledge her partner? It’s just idiotic as well as evil.

  16. 16
    Robert says:

    I think the reason is quite clear: they don’t like gay people.

    As for how they ignore it…well, power is applied at the point. Is the nurse going to get in trouble for following her prejudice, in a context where the doctors and administrators and townsfolk also share it? Probably not. Is someone likely to sue them? Probably not. And if you do get sued, it won’t be you getting sued, it will be your hospital. They’re not worried about losing their job; there’s a nursing shortage. The likely worst case is you get a dressing down from some suit.

    Evil? Yeah, I gotta go with you on that one. It is evil.

  17. 17
    Dianne says:

    I’d do my best to get a nurse who did what the one in Fla did fired. She’s a danger to the patients. Apart from the emotional trauma, is she really going to do her best for a patient if she hates her guts because of who she is? Incidentally, she’s also a lawsuit magnet, which is the argument that might hold weight with the hospital administration.

    But yeah, shared prejudice and nursing shortage. Probably nothing will happen to her.

  18. 18
    Robert says:

    You would, because you’re not focused (afaik) on dealing with your loved one who’s dying of the creeping awfuls in the hospital. The people who are being hurt, are people who are distracted and vulnerable and not in an emotional or likely financial position to sue or to engage in a (probably fruitless and certainly time-consuming) effort to try to get someone fired. Also, as I recall, you work in a healthcare-related field so you’re familiar with the grounds of action and the players and the politics; Jane the Lesbian Accountant is a microbe on that field.

    No, this is one of those rare instances for this libertarian where I can see that private action and choice is not likely to be able to make an impact; without state recognition and action, people will be hurt and for no particularly good cause.

  19. 19
    Mandolin says:

    Robert–cheers.

  20. 20
    paul says:

    I think it may be hard for someone who hasn’t been closely involved in the care of a seriously ill or dying loved one (as Robert suggests) to fully comprehend the evil of this kind of behavior, and the impossibility of gaining recompense by private action.

    Back when my mother was dying, she asked me to take care of some stuff for her at her bank. So I went over, armed with a longstanding power of attorney, and a cleancut young man handed the paper back without reading it because it wasn’t on the bank’s form. After a couple hours and one of those polite “if we have to file suit, all of your customers are going to know that they can’t trust their deposits to you when they need them most” phone calls,” back I went again, and out 15 minutes later. I didn’t have the time to tell anyone at the bank what I thought of them.

    They deprived me of two hours of time with my mother during the last few conscious days of her life. 15 years later, my blood still boils. And I didn’t even get along with my mother that well. So when I think what it would be like to face that kind of evil in the (even potential) last days or hours of a life partner’s presence, my mind boggles.

  21. 21
    Schala says:

    It’s like when folks try to trivialize anti-gay bullying by claiming that straight kids get bullied too. It’s not the same thing. The occasional incidence of something happening to straight people does not equal the institutional practice of the same thing happening to gay people.

    You might note that gender-variance (in any perceivable way) based bashing overlaps significantly with homophobia and transphobia. And that someone who is neither identified as transgender, transsexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual or in any way “not 100% heterosexual”, can and will be targeted with violence, consistently, and for the same reasons, as seen by the perpetrator(s), even if they don’t coincide with a protected category status.

    I was targeted similarly when younger, because my body language appeared too feminine, pre-transition. I didn’t know transgender existed yet. I didn’t openly identify as female then. I didn’t openly profess feminine pass times, wardrobes or interests (even privately I didn’t). I didn’t date anyone.

    But I wouldn’t have been protected under statutes, because I was seen to be officially (on paper anyway) as a “white cis het male person”. As a white trans het female person, I’m already more protected…but don’t suffer from “mis-targeted” homophobia since then (and I’m a jeans and t-shirt, occasional skirt, no make-up girl).

    I also don’t think people should be required of coming out to be protected from homophobia. Being seen as or assumed to be gay (due to anything) should already be enough.

  22. 22
    lauren says:

    Schala, I am pretty sure the argument was not “bullying of people who are not/ do not identify as gay should not be treated as a very serious problem.” The arguement was that it is wrong to be opposed to the fight against anti-gay bulllying based on arguments along the lines of “other kids get bullied to, so we can treat all bullying the same without looking at the systemic issues that are behind different kinds of bullying”. Just as it is wrong to say “sometimes, hetero couples don’t have their wishes accepted either, so we shouldn’t look for something to protect the non-hetero couples specifically, even though their mistreatment is based on other, systemic issues”.

  23. 23
    RonF says:

    It really drives me up a wall when folks use the “but that happens to hetero couples too” canard. It’s like when folks try to trivialize anti-gay bullying by claiming that straight kids get bullied too. It’s not the same thing. The occasional incidence of something happening to straight people does not equal the institutional practice of the same thing happening to gay people.

    If you don’t think that bullying of kids on the basis of attributes other than their sexual preferences is institutional you haven’t been observing very closely. Heterosexual kids who are fat, weak, wear glasses,stand out intellectually, etc. get bulled on a pretty consistent basis. It’s not an “occasional incidence” for them, trust me. Being bullied on the basis of being homosexual is a bad thing but it’s not unique. There’s numerous other groups it happens to.

  24. 24
    fannie says:

    Schala said:

    I was targeted similarly when younger, because my body language appeared too feminine, pre-transition. I didn’t know transgender existed yet. I didn’t openly identify as female then. I didn’t openly profess feminine pass times, wardrobes or interests (even privately I didn’t). I didn’t date anyone.

    But I wouldn’t have been protected under statutes, because I was seen to be officially (on paper anyway) as a “white cis het male person”.

    I’m curious which specific statutes you’re referring to. Depending on the jurisdiction in which you lived at the time and what sort of environment you were in (public school? private school? clubs?), I wonder if it’s truly accurate to say that you had no statutory protection as a “white cis het male person” or that you’re “more protected” now as a transwoman.

    Title IX prohibits the sexual harassment of both male and female students by other students of any sex and sexual orientation. And, many states and cities also have similar sexual harassment laws that apply to the harassment of male persons as well.

    Also, under many anti-discrimination/harassment laws and policies, it is considered actionable if a person is harassed because others merely think s/he is gay (even if the person isn’t actually gay).

    I think this is worth pointing out because we do have this false narrative in some circles that LGBT people, women, and racial minorities get some sort of Special Right to protection from harassment that “white cis het male persons” don’t get.

  25. 25
    RonF says:

    It occurs to me that a fat lawsuit by someone with a power of attorney who was denied their legal privileges by a hospital against said hospital would get quite a bit of notice by the risk management lawyers at hospitals around the country.

  26. 26
    fannie says:

    “If you don’t think that bullying of kids on the basis of attributes other than their sexual preferences is institutional you haven’t been observing very closely. Kids who are fat, weak, wear glasses or who stand out intellectually get bulled on a pretty consistent basis. It’s not an ‘occasional incidence’ for them, trust me.”

    Perhaps I’m reading Bear’s comment too charitably, but it seemed to me that the relatively “occasional incidences” of bullying that s/he was referring to were straight kids being bullied on the basis of them being straight, not on the bases you brought up, RonF: “fat, weak,” etc.

    In any event, I would agree with you that kids being bullied for being fat, ugly, weak, nerdy, etc are not “occasional instances.” And yet, I too have some frustration about how conversations about homophobic bullying often turn into, “Well, other kids get bullied too” as that then shifts the conversation from a specific cause (we live in a homophobic society) to a more general attitude of (kids are just mean at that age). It tends to invisibilize how kids might be taking cues from the larger society in who they choose to pick on and, consequently, how we might best address those cues.

  27. 27
    shalom says:

    Schala: AFAIK from helping institute anti-bullying provisions in a few schools when I was a high school student, such policies by convention read, “actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.” It was an issue we discussed a lot and always emphasized to parents and admins — a big part of how we were able to get the policies across.

  28. 28
    Schala says:

    Title IX prohibits the sexual harassment of both male and female students by other students of any sex and sexual orientation. And, many states and cities also have similar sexual harassment laws that apply to the harassment of male persons as well.

    Well, it wasn’t sexual harassment, it was mainly unarmed assault. Plain old getting beaten up. Also psychological bullying. I was a loner mainly, so it wasn’t that bad. Except people didn’t ignore me all the time, either.

    And I tried to seek redress for bullying. I was told (by directors) it was my fault, because I didn’t ignore being insulted (I might reply back, but never fought back). You think after utter failure from school authority, I was going to see above? I’d have gone out of schooling before that, and not only because it takes years to get anything won in court – but because I didn’t trust authorities to do anything either.

    Bullying in schools has always been the elephant in the hall that we (as a society anyway) ignore. We don’t want murders, rapes, or gory assaults, but plain psychological bullying? Go ahead, it’s target practice, and no one can sue you because you’re a minor. Most minors also don’t prosecute simple unarmed assault from peers, unless it results in the loss of use of a limb, accidental death or the likes. If all you get is punched in the gut every so often, you got nothing to complain about, apparently.

    Some say it prepares youngsters for “the real world out there” when confronted with bullying, homophobia and pro-conformism notions (like say, forbidding boys from having long hair in school – as defined as anything beyond extremely short hair – or forcing girls to wear skirts). Or that it forges character, gives thicker skin.

    It might be better if the people involved had “signed up” to have thicker skin and being made to conform to everyone else. But as it is, no one consented.

  29. 29
    embergirl says:

    Or that it forges character, gives thicker skin.

    It had the opposite effect on me. I interpret innocuous comments as criticisms, get so anxious thyat I sometimes cannot leave my room, overreact to any criticism (however fair, mild and tactfully phrased) and puke my f*cking guts up several times a day. I admit I probably have a genetic predisposition to mental illness. Several bereavments and various physical health issues probably didn’t help, either. But six years of daily homophobic bullying have f*cked with my head forever. I’ve just accepted that I’ll always think people hate me, even when there’s no reason to think that, and that I will never, ever be happy.

    Sorry to turn this into a pity-party. I just needed to vent.

  30. 30
    Grace Annam says:
    It really drives me up a wall when folks use the “but that happens to hetero couples too” canard. It’s like when folks try to trivialize anti-gay bullying by claiming that straight kids get bullied too.

    Being bullied on the basis of being homosexual is a bad thing but it’s not unique. There’s numerous other groups it happens to.

    Wow. Well done, RonF. Great example.

    Grace

  31. 31
    Hugh says:

    It’s like when folks try to trivialize anti-gay bullying by claiming that straight kids get bullied too. It’s not the same thing. The occasional incidence of something happening to straight people does not equal the institutional practice of the same thing happening to gay people.

    Yeah, the thing that got to me here was the ‘occasional incidence’ part. This seems to imply that bullying is something that usually happens to queer kids. If we want to talk about queer bullying and its unique attributes, by all means let’s do so and not talk about straight bullying for the moment. But to imply that straight bullying is ‘occasional’ is pretty indefensible. Maybe that’s not what Bear meant, but that’s some pretty shonky phrasing.

  32. 32
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    When I was a kid, I was harassed for being short and for having a foot that turns out. It was mild as such things go, but I’m still digging out from the effects decades later.

    When I say that bullying is a problem that hits a wide range of kids, I don’t mean that the problems of gay and transgender kids should be ignored. I mean that if there aren’t general anti-bullying policies, there will always be kids who fall through the cracks, and I suspect I would have been one of those kids.

    There may be specific policies needed to discourage specific sorts of bullying. It seems unlikely to me that having a general anti-bullying policy would dilute efforts to prevent particularly virulent sorts of bullying, which I think is one of the fears. Is that what you mean? Does anyone have experience with anti-bullying programs to say how different approaches are apt to play out?

  33. 33
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    It really drives me up a wall when folks use the “but that happens to hetero couples too” canard.

    You should learn to recognize when it’s a side track and when it’s relevant.

    The population is, what, 80-90% hetero? If you’re talking about public policy and law then it doesn’t make a lot of sense to ignore them. Those of us who are generally concerned with people blowing off powers of attorney and health care proxies (hi!) think that the less-frequent occurrences that happen for hetero couples are nonetheless important things to deal with. The problems/1000 people are surely much higher for gays, but it’s still a big problem for straights.

    “Push for gay marriage as a means of fixing proxies, because gays suffer disproportionate discrimination and because it’s simpler than fixing and/or enforcing the individual proxy laws” is a valid point.

    But so is “don’t give up on fixing the proxy laws, because we shouldn’t limit those important rights to people who are married (irrespective of orientation) and because it will benefit even more of the population than a measure which is only aimed at gays who want to get married.”

    I’m all for gay marriage. But I’m opposed to the concept that contractual rights of this nature should be limited to married people of any orientation.

  34. 34
    Schala says:

    I’m all for gay marriage. But I’m opposed to the concept that contractual rights of this nature should be limited to married people of any orientation.

    I also agree strongly with this point.

    This, more than anything else, is what will/would push people into sham marriages for the benefits alone – and straight people do it, this isn’t Adam Sandler’s world where only gay people want tangible benefits for free (50$ for a marriage license sounds like a symbolic price), that can override other benefits (and thus makes those others near obsolete).

    Some/many? people might be more suspicious that “Chuck and Larry” aren’t in a “marriage of love”, but that’s mainly to do with those people’s concept of love as only and uniquely possible with two people of different sex. And being in it for love isn’t a prerequisite to marrying.

  35. 35
    fannie says:

    Nancy said:

    “When I say that bullying is a problem that hits a wide range of kids, I don’t mean that the problems of gay and transgender kids should be ignored. I mean that if there aren’t general anti-bullying policies, there will always be kids who fall through the cracks, and I suspect I would have been one of those kids.”

    Absolutely.

    Speaking as a lesbian, I am somewhat triggered by the “but bullying happens to other kids too” statement because it’s so often put forth by anti-LGBT people who oppose anti-homophobia bullying initiatives because they want society to actually keep telling LGBT kids that it’s wrong/gross/immoral/unhealthy to be LGBT.

    So, like gin-and-whiskey said, I think it’s important to recognize when the statement is a derail and when it’s relevant.

  36. 36
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Thanks, fannie.

    There are also people are opposed to anti-bullying LBGTQ programs because (as far as I can tell) they are in favor of bullying, or at least are more worried about constraints against bullying than they are about anything else.

  37. 37
    mythago says:

    I like the “prepares the kids for the real world out there” argument. Because in the real, adult world, when you harass somebody or pick on them, there are consequences. I firmly believe that dropping a restraining order on a bullying little shit, or suing her parents, is an excellent way for the bully to “prepare for the real world out there”.

    My oldest kid (who has ASD) was fortunate enough to have a principal at her middle school with this attitude. The other kids quickly learned that if you picked on the ‘weird’ kid, she would hurt you, and she would get a stern finger-wagging while the bully and his/her parents would get read the riot act and suspended for a week. You’d be amazed on the effect that has on bullies.

  38. 38
    Bear says:

    Oh I agree with gw as well that we need to make a distinction between when it’s a derail and when it’s relevant. I just think it’s a derail to talk about the problems of straight people when the discussion is about why same sex marriage is an important issue. If the conversation were about the general need to address the weaknesses of POA, I’d agree that dual-sex marriage examples would be relevant. That’s not the conversation the OP suggests we’re having.

    But derail is a very easy monster to encounter when discussing the oppression of gay people. Look how easy it is in this thread to respond to my original comment by pointing out that the bullying of heterosexuals is not an occasional occurrence because apparently heterosexuals get bullied all the time too for being fat or smart or what-have-you. But the fat kid is not getting bullied for being straight. The smart kid is not being bullied for being straight. Neither is the nerd, the disabled person, the poor person or the short person. Their supposed straightness (because fat, poor and smart kids can be gay too) is irrelevant to their bullying. The same is true for visitation rights–your in-laws hating you is not the same as bigots getting a pass by society or the local community to engage in anti-gay policies and behavior. But hey, let’s not let the issue of same sex couples being systematically trivialized get in the way of making sure that we notice that straight people sometimes have to deal with crap too. God forbid we should ever have a discussion about anything without straight people claiming their Rightful Share of the victim pie.

    (Sorry about the snark but I think in this case, it maybe just a teensy weensy bit justified.)

  39. 39
    mythago says:

    This seems to imply that bullying is something that usually happens to queer kids.

    Do we need the patronizing lecture about imply vs. infer again?

    Bullying is something that happens to kids perceived as being different and less-than. That’s why “oh, straight kids get bullied too” is a derail. Straight kids do not get bullied for being straight. Straight, fat kids get bullied for being fat. Straight, short kids get teased for being short. But queer, not-fat, not-short kids get teased for being queer, which would not happen if they were straight.

    And of course kids don’t actually have to be queer to be bullied. It’s enough for somebody to decide that so-and-so must be gay.

  40. 40
    fannie says:

    “But hey, let’s not let the issue of same sex couples being systematically trivialized get in the way of making sure that we notice that straight people sometimes have to deal with crap too.”

    Yeah, back to the original post topic, that’s why I didn’t appreciate On Lawn’s comment. I’ve seen this guy participate in many LGBT-related comment threads over the years, and he often brings up his “it happened to my wife and me once” story when the issue is discrimination against same-sex couples.

    Assuming he’s not leaving out other pertinent information about his situation (and that’s a big assumption, I think)- okay, so it happens to straight people sometimes. But the point is that (like bullying) it doesn’t happen to straight people solely because they are straight. And, barring conspiracies to hide the prevalence of occurences aside, it doesn’t often happen to straight married couples because our larger society doesn’t generally devalue the heterosexual married relationship the way it devalues same-sex relationships.

    Through marriage, some same-sex couples seek to obtain some of that legitimacy so issues like hospital visitation don’t have to be as anxiety-provoking and scary.

  41. 41
    Grace Annam says:

    And of course kids don’t actually have to be queer to be bullied. It’s enough for somebody to decide that so-and-so must be gay.

    This is true. I got teased for being gay, even though, at first, I hadn’t hit puberty yet and had no sexual desires, and, later, I was presenting as a boy and firmly attracted to girls. Didn’t make any difference. The perception was there, and I heard about it routinely.

    Grace

  42. 42
    denelian says:

    i don’t know about On-Lawn’s case – but i do know that MY POA for my boyfriend is what convinced me that a POA is *not enough* for same-sex couples. or rather, me taking my boyfriend to the ER, presenting the Power of Attorny, and being told that it didn’t matter, i wasn’t his WIFE, they weren’t going to talk to me or listen to me or ANYTHING until he was coherent enough to say that the POA was “real” [despite it being a legal document drawn up by a lawyer, notarized by her secretary who was also a notary republic, and being ON FILE in his hospital records] is what led me to believe that getting POAs and other legal documents that are supposed to “add up to all the privileges of marriage” is a BS thing that some people advocate and will NOT ever replace marriage* as the only way to *ensure* that people are allowed to exercise these rights.

    if that makes sense.

    *at some point, i hope that the State will NEVER be involved in “marriage”. “marriage” is a religious institution that the State has co-opted and used to implement all these various rights and the exercise thereof. it is my fervent wish that the State get out of the marriage business altogether, and instead worry about *households* if they have to worry about thing at all. because the problems that same-sex couples have, BECAUSE they are same-sex couples without the benefit of the shortcut of marriage, are the same problems other people have – people who want to assign their POAs to a best friend or a sister or someone ELSE who is not a spouse. right now, same-sex couples are treated the worse because of enduring bigotry, and that *needs* to be fixed – but wouldn’t the best fix be a law that states you can pick ANY adult you want to have those rights and the ability to exercise them?

  43. 43
    fannie says:

    I agree, denelian, about getting states out of marriage.

    I’d prefer for states to issue civil union licenses on a non-discriminatory basis and for religious groups stick to marriage ceremonies (while retaining the right to discriminate in accordance with their religious views). Unfortunately, I don’t think heterosexual “marriage defenders” are going to be all that willing to relinquish the privileged standing heterosexual marriage has in the US legal system. (See, eg, predictions of the End Of the World, etc).

  44. 44
    denelian says:

    Fannie;

    you’re right, of course – they won’t ever be happy with that.
    but it bugs me – 1st amendment for one, i mean, how can the State [i don't mean "the states" here, i mean the *government*, i.e. the Federal State, and i'm being a poli-sci snob by doing so, so i'm going to use "government" from now on, because of that confusion, heightened because it *IS* individual States in the US that grant marriage lisences, and not that "State" that is the U.S. federal government. sorry about that] the Government back a religious institution that is discriminatory? i mean, it wasn’t until the 70′s that “pagan” religions had ANY right to perform their marriage ceremonies and have them be granted as “equal” to any Judeo-Christian religion; contrawise, there are many religions that DO allow marriages that are NOT “legal” according the government – religions that allow same-sex marriage being the most salient to this discussion, of course.

    but, further, i don’t even think civil unions are THE way, per se – civil unions are just non-religious marriage, and if we go that route, it cuts out other types of families.
    i used to be the live-in nanny for my sister and her husband. they wanted to include me on his insurance, because i lived with them [as a "dependent", no less!] and they both had POAs for my medical care, i had POAs for both of them AND their daughter. [we are lucky that my neice looks JUST like me, and that so many mothers don’t share last names with their children, or it would have been a LOT harder for me to get medical treatment for her – because the one time i tried to use the POA i had for her, they also refused it and wouldn’t treat the child at ALL until they got ahold of either my sister or my b-i-l. luckily, it wasn’t anything life-threatening [although she was in pain for MUCH too long, as this was at lunch time and pre-everyone having cell-phones...] and after that i just let them assume i was her mother.]

    but – the whole thing was a MESS. and this was adult family trying to stand in for adult family. in 2002, i almost *died* because the emergency room didn’t want to accept the POA that my sister had for me. my SISTER. and what was the hospital’s solution? they called my DAD – who had LESS of a right to make decisions for me, at that time, than my sister did, being that i was over 21 and only my sister held POA.

    i’d MUCH rather that people be able to form “households” – which may or may not include “domestic partners” as a different way of saying “married couple”. at some point, it’s possible that my sisters and i may set up a household of just us – how is that any less worthy of all those rights [and the exercise thereof] than a “civil union”? or maybe a pair of friends want the benefits, but are not “together” in that sense – we already have “sham marriages” of this type; do we really need to encourage other “sham marriages” that can later be challenged on the basis that there was no sex, therefor no “consumation”, and therefor this OTHER person gets to make decions that the person assigned to someone else?

    that may just be me – as much as i agree and work towards a time when LGBTQI* people have the exact same rights and privileges as anyone who is “straight”, i also am working towards a time where those rights and privileges aren’t necessarily based on “romantic relations”, if that follows. they are right now – and i think that while that’s one valid form, it’s not the ONLY valid form. you know? why should i have to have a romantic attachment to a person in order to grant those rights and the ability to exercise them? why should anyone?

    *If i missed a initial, i appologize – this is my current knowledge of the umbrella of “non-cisgendered/hetersexual people”. but being that i am a cis-hetero woman, i sometimes miss things. i’d welcome any correction.

  45. 45
    Bear says:

    I disagree–marriage was originally a social tradition, not a religious one. Thus, the State–the medium by which we as a whole participate in our society–has a more valid place in marriage than religions do. I’d like to see religions get out of the marriage business. That is, they should stick with their original function–that of performing weddings in accordance with their congregations’ rituals.

    Weddings are not the same thing as marriages. Religious rituals are weddings, not marriages.

  46. 46
    Hugh says:

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure marriages began purely as a way to arbitrate the inheritance rights of offspring. Churches got involved because they had a near monopoly on the legal profession due to having a near monopoly on literacy. The whole “marriage as a spiritual sanctimony” came much, much later.

  47. 47
    mythago says:

    denelian, where did you get the information that (at least in the US) members of pagan religious groups could not be officiants recognized by civil law as officiants of, say, Christian churches are?

    As for unlinking privileges from marriage, I agree that marriage should not be the only avenue – but in addition to rights, marriage imposes obligations that don’t fall on the non-married. And it’s also a losing argument to say that instead of SSM we should simply abolish the whole marriage thing first. That’s a Glass Mountain argument.

  48. 48
    fannie says:

    Regarding the origins of marriage and the involvement of religious organizations- the history and purpose of marriage is very different depending on which society, culture, socioeconomic class, and time period we’re talking about.

    My point was that, practically speaking, I’d prefer the state to issue civil unions on a non-discriminatory basis since the word marriage, and its definition, is so contentious (and, frankly, carries a lot of patriarchal baggage). If the couples wanted to call their unions a marriage then that would be their choice (and the choice of their religious affiliate, if applicable).

    Also, I’m intrigued by denelian’s idea of rights for households. Given that one type of relationship, the heterosexual marriage, is held up as society’s standard-bearer relationship, the inclusion of same-sex couples into marriage would seem to create just a new relationship hierarchy.

  49. 49
    mythago says:

    But practically speaking, the state isn’t going to stop calling such unions “marriage” anytime soon, nor is it fair to suggest that same-sex couples work for that instead.

  50. 50
    denelian says:

    mythago;

    i’m speaking based on family history. in the US, one has the be “liscenced” to perform a marriage, and there are multiple ways to do it, the most common being a judge [automatically granted, i THINK?] or become clergy. to be able to legally marry as “clergy”, one must register – and i have a grandfather who TRIED to register, in the 50′s, but was refused – he wasn’t a Christian, a Jew, or any other “recognized” religion.
    he tried again in [i think] 68, and was this time granted it, because he had a “congregation” of at least 50 people [as in, he had to collect signatures from 50 people who he "led in worship" - which was a lie, sort of, as really it was my Grandmother who was High Priestess and "led" some few others, certainly not 50 others! the rest were just friends, i think] because at some point in between those 2 tries, someone had realized that just because the *state* doesn’t “recognize” a religion [which is really "knows about and acknowledges"] doesn’t mean that said religion is “not real”.
    he also almost got thrown in jail for some sort of “fraud”, something that he later describes “they accused me of attempting to fraudulently claim to lead an “unreal” church, and of “impersonating clergy” and bunch of other things that added up to “we don’t like your religion”.”

    it’s possible other states did other things and accepted a wider range of “clergy” – although, from what i’ve heard [which may or may not be true, i guess] there was at least a decade between the time when Wicca and other “revival” pagan groups started and the time they were granted status as “churches”. i can’t speak from experience – i was born in 77, i didn’t become a HP until 2000, and i didn’t try to “register” until 05 – at which time, the STANDARD way to register as “clergy” with the state of Ohio was to send in a list of people who were your “congregants”, and had been the law for at least 20 years. maybe longer – it’s possible that the reason California adopted it in the 60′s [and my grandfather went thru the getting a list of "congregants"] was because Ohio had.

    i know from tribal history that it wasn’t until WWII that medicine men/shamans/whatever you want to call Native “clergy” were *legally* clergy. again, at least in California; it may have been different in other states.

  51. 51
    Zoe Brain says:

    The basic problem with generalised anti-bullying statutes is that all too many school administrators don’t think it applies to punishment for immorality.

    A kid steals something – is caught by the victim – punched – that’s OK.
    A boy harrasses a girl – she slaps his face – that’s OK.
    A gay gets beaten up for being a godless sodomite – that’s OK too.

    It’s only when the laws say “yes, we mean gays too” that they get enforced. Just like generic anti-bullying provisions didn’t protect blacks, or jews, or catholics, till they were specifically included. Thieves, perverts, blacks, jews, catholics, gays, all were looked on as deserving what they got. Still are in many places – unless the law specifically says otherwise.

  52. 52
    mythago says:

    denelian, I don’t at all doubt that religious bigots told your grandfather (and others) that they wouldn’t treat them as ‘real’ religious officials – just like today when it’s crystal clear that schools can’t force students to pray, the ACLU has a regular business in explaining to small-town school officials that, no, they still can’t require the whole student body to say the Lord’s Prayer every morning.

  53. 53
    denelian says:

    mythago;

    all of that is true – bigoted people denied him. on the other hand – remember how our children were taken from us and raised “Christian” [erm. by "us" i mean "Native Americans"] and we weren’t supposed to practice our religion at *ALL*?

    i know that at some point, it became legal for any religion to *claim* religious statues [church status?] but i’m unsure WHEN that was, or rather when it started, since it happened at different times in different states.
    so now that i’ve given myself homework… i’ll see what i come up with :)

  54. 54
    mythago says:

    Oh gosh, didn’t mean to give you a homework assignment. What I meant was that there are several different things you’re talking about – being able to officially register as a ‘church’ and be treated as such by, for example, the IRS, vs. being able to officiate at a marriage. And of course what the law said and how it was actually applied are far from the same thing. I have no trouble at all believing that various state officials would have simply refused to follow the law wrt Native religions.

  55. 55
    denelian says:

    oh, hey, i gave MYSELF that homework – now i’m interested!

    erm, geeky-but-true – i LIKE homework like this. pure academic research :)

    i’m still trying to define paramaters, as you’re correct – i *AM* speaking of several different things, and probably conflating a bit where it isn’t justified.

    here’s an example: on military dog tags, in the early 90s [at least for the AF] you listed your “religious preferance”. the options were limited, and as far as i remember they were “Christian:Catholic – Christian:Protestant – Christian:Other – Jewish – Agnostic – Atheist – Other”
    and i knew a woman who successfully got out of the AF at least partially because she converted to Wicca. ultimately, the reason was because she told a chaplain that she was a lesbian, but the wheels were already moving when she did so, and she told him because she’d been advised it would get her out FASTER.
    it may have been the fact that this was Maxwell AFB [so, Montgomery, Alabama - where i did get attacked more than once at school, because my step-sister was openly Wiccan, and people assumed i was, too. i wasn't and i'm not, but... i'm "other".] and the Base Commander was VERY strictly Baptist. also an ass. he gave me *endless* shit after i got married, because he liked my dad and thought i was “crazy” to marry and not be my DAD’S dependent anymore [although there's VERY little difference between "dependent:child" and "dependent:spouse"]

    so yeah – i like homework, it’s been a thing that’s been in my mind for a while, and this exchange just firmed it up some :)

    if you [or anyone] has any suggestions for paramaters, i’d appreciate it! so far, i’ve got the “legally recognized as a “church”” [what a misnomer!] and “legally able to be an officiant for things like weddings”. i’m POSITIVE there are others. i just don’t know, off the top of my head, what they’d be. “protected status” as a religion? [like how Quakers/Friends can avoid combat because it's against their religion]. being staff clergy in the military or in a hospital? i know NA religions gained *that* status in or shortly after WWI – when did pagan and neopagan religions gain it?

    stuff like that. meat and bread for me :)

  56. 56
    Phil says:

    My feeling has always been that, in order to ensure true religious freedom, laws must be crafted (and legal standards set) so that they take into account not just popular, major religions, but also any _possible_ religion or religious belief. Otherwise, the government is creating an environment where new religious beliefs are discouraged at the expense of existing ones. (That’s probably off-topic; sorry. But the example of the very limited selections on dog tags surprised me.)

  57. 57
    denelian says:

    Phil;

    it may be off topic but i agree. i don’t know if current dog tags are the same – the few people i know still in the military are Christian, atheist, or the one pagan i know hides the fact that he’s pagan from his mother, so his dog tags read “Christian”.
    i know that Wicca itself has been “accepted” by the military as a “real” religion, for whatever worth that may have. i don’t even know what that functunally *means* for Wiccan people in the military! hence my homework :)

  58. 58
    mythago says:

    My understanding is that servicemembers who are Wiccan get all the same entitlements as members of any other faith, which off the top of my head includes having the five-pointed pentacle on a headstone (where, say, a Christian soldier would have a cross). I imagine WitchVox would have more info.

  59. 59
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Phil says:
    June 1, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    My feeling has always been that, in order to ensure true religious freedom, laws must be crafted (and legal standards set) so that they take into account not just popular, major religions, but also any _possible_ religion or religious belief. Otherwise, the government is creating an environment where new religious beliefs are discouraged at the expense of existing ones.

    The reason that this doesn’t easily happen is obvious: since we benefit to some degree from relatively predictable and universally enforced laws, it’s difficult to have too many exceptions. Also, there arises the concern that people will simply create a “religion” to get around pretty much anything they don’t like; there are/were plenty of “church of the Peyote” type things that sprung up.

    I’m on the same fairness side but the opposite end of application: I don’t think there should be any exceptions for any religion. So what if you think you need to wear a nose ring, or pray, or whatever? Not. My. Problem. THINKING is malleable in a way that most protected classes aren’t. Believe what you want but don’t get exceptions for it.

    But there’s no good solution for the reality that there is zero possibility we’ll ever remove those, though: it doesn’t seem fair to deny minority religions, but it similarly doesn’t seem like a good idea to allow anyone to claim a religious exemption for anything. If you recognize the quandary you’ll start to understand why there are “tests” for adequacy of a religion. Those are a bad compromise but perhaps the best one we have.

  60. 60
    mythago says:

    Believe what you want but don’t get exceptions for it.

    Which invites laws specifically crafted to suppress non-majority religious practices, and at best permits laws that favor the religious practices of the majority over the minority. “Sorry, our Blue Laws forbid opening on Sunday but require being open on Saturday. You’re Jewish? Too fucking bad. This is a Christian state.”

    So simply refusing to craft any exception for religion runs smack into the Establishment Clause. The question is how far that exception goes; SCOTUS most recently answered this in a spectacularly stupid fashion (but then, the case involved drugs, which always invites High Court Herpaderp).

  61. 61
    sylvia says:

    my spouse had a strock and in a hospital far away from spouse because the brother took spouse out of hospital and took to another hospital and got medical power of attorny over spouse and only one that can make or say or anything only he can no one else just him my spouse dosent even know whats up and know spouse cant call or visit spouse any more what can spouse do to hellp spouse when brother has all control over everything help what can l do to get back our rights and get rid of brothers and cancle all his right over my spouse. please if anyone knows what we can do please tell us we have tried every thing-nothing works. what can we do no one is listening to us and no one will help us we are treated so rudely and disrespectful by hospital staff and why are they dening spouse any rights the brother lied and lied to do what he has done to us and its so wrong. what can we do to change this and get back our rights. HELP I miss my spouse so much and so worried about him it hurts. what mush he be filling the same. he says get me out of here please and l cant help.

  62. 62
    Robert says:

    Your spouse can revoke a medical power of attorney at any time. If he is able to communicate to you that he wants to leave, he should be able to communicate the same to his doctors. A medical power of attorney does not empower commitment against one’s will.

    Without knowing the details of your situation, it’s going to be very difficult for anyone to help you. I am not saying that you aren’t telling the truth, but the story as you present it does not make any sense.

  63. 63
    KellyK says:

    Wow, Sylvia, I’m really sorry. That has to be horrible. The only advice I can offer is to talk to a lawyer, if you haven’t already. I’m sure there will be people here who have more and better ideas.

  64. 64
    Yusifu says:

    Sylvia, Your rights and the resources available for helping you and your spouse depend on where you are. As Robert says, if your spouse is able to communicate, he should be able to let others know his wishes, even if he has been declared legally incompetent. If the two of you are legally married, that should give you some standing despite the medical power of attorney. The important thing is to get legal advice. There may well be organizations that can help with legal and practical advice, but that will depend on where you are. For example, if your relationship is affected by LGBTQI issues, there may be civil rights agencies that can help, but that will depend on the state or country you live in. I’m so sorry.