A medical catastrophe has split a couple who have spent a life together. In March 2005, Patrick Atkins collapsed while on a business trip. He had a ruptured aneurysm and later suffered a stroke while hospitalized. Now his deeply religious family have taken over his guardianship – even barring his longtime partner, Brett Conrad, from seeing him. Phone calls are also no longer allowed.
Mother of Patrick, Jeanne Atkins, is quoted in court documents as saying she believes homosexuality is a sin and that she disapproves of the men’s relationship.
Conrad originally won visitation rights from the Indiana Court of Appeals, but the court upheld an earlier Hamilton County ruling that left control of Atkins’ care to his parents.
The couple’s tragic situation underscores the discrimination embedded in Indiana law and gives reason for gay marriage.
Opponents of same-sex marriage say the case could have been prevented if the couple had used existing laws that can give unmarried (gay) couples the legal right to act on each other’s behalf.