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Health Care, Gay Rights & Choice

May 19, 2006

To the Editor:

It’s unfortunate that Assemblywoman Deborah Glick responds to my substantive criticism of her position on the Family Health Care Decisions Act by labeling it “homophobic” (“West Side Split on Medical Decisions,” by Paul Schindler, May 18-24). In fact, I join her in supporting full equal rights for gays and lesbians, including the right to marry. The FHDA does not discriminate against same-sex relationships. To the contrary, it empowers close friends and family members, both gay and straight, to make decisions on behalf of patients who are incapacitated. Glick and others oppose the bill in part because it does not specifically protect domestic partners. My column argued that the changes she is demanding would probably kill important legislation that has already languished in Albany for 13 years. I believe Glick is letting purist politics get in the way of a common-sense compromise. By glibly accusing those who disagree with her of bigotry, Glick proves my point.

Bill Hammond

Columnist

The Daily News

Albany

May 22, 2006

To the Editor:

Your article “West Side Split on Medical Decisions” implies that the Family Health Care Decisions Act somehow undermines a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion because it requires the surrogate decision maker to act in the “best interests” of an incapacitated pregnant patient. This “best interest” test considers a variety of factors, including what a pregnant woman would wish for her fetus. Inserting the woman’s choice into health care decisions is precisely what the reproductive rights movement is all about.

The New York Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Rights Project has served as the legal arm of New York’s pro-choice movement for more than a decade. We and every legal group to analyze this bill—including multiple committees of the New York State and City Bar Associations—have recognized that this bill does not imply, infer, or create any special rights or standing for the fetus. In fact, it specifically directs the surrogate to act as he or she believes the incapacitated woman would wish. Moreover, if this bill did create special “fetal” rights, you can bet that every pro-choice group in this state—including ours—would be against this bill. But the reality is that not a single choice group opposes this language. Tellingly, even the Catholic Conference, somewhat ruefully, testified in a public hearing last winter that this language creates no rights for the fetus.

Had I been in the country last week I would have been able to clarify precisely this point with your reporter. I would also have told your reporter that NYCLU never spoke to Daily News editorialist Hammond and has only the highest regard for Assemblymembers Glick and O’Donnell—even when we disagree. Indeed, we proudly represent Assemblymember O’Donnell in the legal challenge to the ban on same-sex marriage.

New York remains one of two states with no procedures for families and loved ones to make painful end-of-life decisions without expensive and cumbersome court challenges. In their trying hours at hospital bedsides, these New Yorkers don’t need political name calling—they need a law. 

Donna Lieberman

Executive director

New York Civil Liberties Union

360 Degrees of Disagreement

May 22, 2006

To the Editor

I must begin by stating that for the greater part of my adult life as a “gay” man, I have refused to use that to define me (“Musto to Anderson Cooper: Get Over It,” by Andy Humm, May 18-24). Lately though, I’ve come to realize the ever growing attack from the “right” makes it important for me to be more involved and vocal about my stance. When asked.

I believe that in order for us to gain validity and equal civil rights as the rest of the country, we must represent a broad spectrum of individuality. That Mr. Cooper chooses not to disclose his bedroom practices is much welcomed by me. I’m tired of being associated with what I would categorize as a “witch hunt” of sorts. It is a well known fact that he prefers the company of men, so I say to Mr. Musto: Get Over It, Mary.

His mother led a fascinating life, and while not being a huge fan of VF, it served its need in our society. Mr. Cooper picking out sheets at Pratesi with his “partner” does not. The story about his hair products, I mean, come on, he got free stuff from that, and who wouldn’t? We can look past that, can’t we? Let’s all try to not hate the players. Hate the game.

Ricardo Villegas

Venice, California

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Updated 5:17 pm, July 20, 2018
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