President Obama orders hospitals to allow same-sex visits

President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaJudge rules against Trump administration in teen pregnancy prevention case Parkland student rips Obama for essay on shooting survivors Obama pens Time 100 entry for Parkland survivors 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."

"There are few moments in our lives that call for greater compassion and companionship than when a loved one is admitted to the hospital," Obama said. "In these hours of need and moments of pain and anxiety, all of us would hope to have a hand to hold, a shoulder on which to lean -- a loved one to be there for us, as we would be there for them."

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.