Sibley Memorial Hospital discriminated lesbian couple, councilmembers say

Three council members urged a hospital to change how it treats gay and lesbian couples after a case where they believe hospital staff discriminated a lesbian mother.

D.C. Council Members Phil Mendelson, Muriel Bowser, and David Catania wrote a letter (pdf here) to Sibley Memorial Hospital and the D.C. Hospital Association to criticize how hospital staff handled the case of a lesbian mother. The woman had recently given birth at Sibley on Loughboro Road in Northwest and had difficulty obtaining a birth certificate for her newborn child.

She and her partner had requested a parent-parent form over a mother-father form for the child’s birth certificate. Hospital staff told them they had to show a marriage certificate to verify their marriage, but also told them that opposite-sex couples were presumed to be married without such documentation, the council members wrote.

The council members called the treatment “wrong, discriminatory, and antithetical to the District’s laws of providing equal rights and equal dignity to all residents.” They asked the hospital to immediately remedy the situation, correct hospital policy and train hospital staff to avoid a similar case in the future.

The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance said the couple had contacted them and Bowser in early July. The group said it informed the director of D.C.’s office of gay, lesbian and bisexual affairs, Jeffrey Richardson, as well as Mendelson’s committee clerk of the case.