President Barack Obama will honor gay
rights advocate Janice Langbehn with the Presidential Citizens Medal
at an October 20 reception.
Langbehn is among the 13 recipients
this year to receive the nation's second-highest civilian honor.
“This year's recipients of the
Citizens Medal come from different backgrounds, but they share a
commitment to a cause greater than themselves,” said Obama in a
statement. “They exemplify the best of what it means to be an
American, and I am honored to be able to offer them a small token of
Langbehn's story of being blocked by
hospital officials from seeing her dying partner, Lisa Pond, moved
the president to sign a directive ordering the Department of Health
and Human Services to establish new rules that would prevent
hospitals from denying visitation rights to the partners of gay men
Langbehn and three of the couple's four
adopted children were banned by Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami,
Florida from being by Pond's side as she slipped into a coma and died
in 2007. Officials dismissed the couple's advanced healthcare
Langbehn challenged the hospital's
policy, but a federal court ruled against her in 2009.