By Sam Youngman - 04/16/10 12:30 AM EDT
President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaSocial Security to run dry three years sooner than expected: study Former CIA chief shuts down Trump's calls for waterboarding Clinton camp: Trump's fundraising 'bragging is total bunk' MORE on Thursday directed all hospitals that
participate in Medicare and Medicaid to allow people to visit their gay, lesbian and transgender partners.
Obama issued a presidential memorandum Thursday evening "that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability."
The president said that the "stressful and at times terrifying experience for patients is senselessly compounded by indignity and unfairness."
"And it means that all too often, people are made to suffer or even to pass away alone, denied the comfort of companionship in their final moments while a loved one is left worrying and pacing down the hall," Obama wrote.
In his first year in office, the president was often criticized by the GLBT community for not moving fast enough on issues critical to them.
So far this year, the Obama administration and Democrats on Capitol Hill have signaled some progress on issues like repealing "Don't ask, don't tell" and the Employee Non-Discrimination Act.