I freely admit that’s not the most defensible rephrasing of Matthew 25 — it’s hard to get an argument for the stable nuclear family out of the gospels, and expanding the gender configurations of such families doesn’t diminish that (Jesus calls his disciples to care for the sick beyond our families, visit the imprisoned beyond our families; Go and do likewise, not “Seek legal protection of family bonds”).
As of yesterday, Tuesday, January 18, US hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid may not deny queer families hospital visitations. (When this decision was first announced, the President emphasized that this shift in policy benefits not only LGBT people hospitalized in the US, but also celibates — women and men religious and celibate priests also benefit from the ability to designate a fellow sister, brother, or priest as an approved visitor in the event of hospitalization. And insofar as religious celibacy points toward the eschatological relativizing of heterosexually-reproductive family bonds, such “families” are also queer…)
But in this small nod toward justice, let’s not forget the very real cost of such a policy only coming into effect yesterday: contrary to the assertions of the Family Research Council that this legal measure is “a solution in search of a problem,” this legal intervention was preceded by well-publicized recent cases of women dying alone as their long-term partners and children were informed that only “real” family may visit their dying loved one.
I’m dubious that the definition of “real” at work here is, say, “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven.”
(The Memorandum, issued April 15, 2010, reads in part:
It should be made clear that designated visitors, including individuals designated by legally valid advance directives (such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies), should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy. You should also provide that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. )