Former Lambda Legal Client Janice Langbehn to Receive Presidential Citizens Medal

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"This award is the first step in making sure that LGBT families are not treated as second-class citizens."
Octubre 12, 2011

Hear from Lambda Legal plaintiff Janice Langbehn in this video from whitehouse.gov!

(Washington D.C., October 12, 2011)—Today, the White House announced that former Lambda Legal client Janice Langbehn will be one of 13 recipients of the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation's second-highest civilian honor.

"We're proud that Janice will receive the Presidential Citizens Medal from the White House in recognition of her tireless advocacy beginning in a Florida hospital more than three years ago," said Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director for Lambda Legal. "Because Janice boldly told her story, President Obama heard about her and issued the directive last year that led to the new federal rules that will protect same-sex couples and their families across the country."

In June 2008, Lambda Legal filed suit against Jackson Memorial Hospital on behalf of Janice Langbehn. Langbehn and her partner of 18 years, Lisa Pond, were about to depart from Miami on a family cruise with their three children when Pond suddenly collapsed. Langbehn and her children were kept apart from Pond by hospital staff for eight hours as Pond slipped into a coma and later died. Although a federal district court rejected Lambda Legal's lawsuit, ruling that no law required the hospital to allow her and their three children to see her partner, Lambda Legal and Langbehn continued to work with other LGBT organizations and officials at Jackson Memorial Hospital to change hospital policies on visitation and respecting the wishes of same-sex couples and their families. In April 2010, President Obama issued a presidential memo directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to take steps to address hospital visitation and other health care issues affecting LGBT families. President Obama then called Janice from Air Force One to tell her about the memo and express his sympathy for how she and her family were treated by the hospital.

Langbehn will receive the award, along with 12 other recipients, on October 20.

"It is such an amazing honor to receive the Presidential Citizens Medal and it is serendipitous that I got the news today, what would have been the 20th anniversary of my holy union with Lisa," said Janice Langbehn. "Now that the country has rules in place to make sure that no family ever has to experience the nightmare that my family has gone through, this award is the first step in making sure that LGBT families are not treated as second-class citizens."

The case is Langbehn v. Jackson Memorial.

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Contact Info

Contact: Jonathan Adams 212-809-8585 ext. 267; jadams@lambdalegal.org

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

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