President Obama has ordered hospital visitation rights to be expanded to same-sex partners. Hospitals have often prevented gay Americans from visiting their partners on the grounds that they aren't "real" family related by blood or marriage. The move is being met with sweeping praise from liberal commentators, who almost uniformly call the decision "long overdue." Here's what they're saying.
  • Obama's Biggest Gay Rights Step  The Washington Post's Michael Schear calls it "perhaps the most significant step so far in his efforts to expand the rights of gay Americans." The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen beams, "The Obama administration has taken some important steps over the last year on gay rights, but arguably none is more important than the change announced last night. ... The far-right can pout and send ugly fundraising letters about this, but decent people will still be able to consider this development for what it is: another breakthrough for decency, compassion, and common sense."
  • Bigger Than Just Gay Rights  Outside the Beltway's James Joyner explains, "while all the attention is — rightly — being focused on gays and lesbians, the order is actually more far reaching. ... Obama is ordering a very broad right of hospital visitors to designate whomever they wish be allowed to visit and carry out medical decisions. This will have a disparate impact on homosexuals, of course, but it bypasses the 'special rights' argument that opponents of gay rights typically cite. And they’d have a point in this case were Obama to privilege homosexual couples over non-married heterosexual couples."
  • How Obama Can 'Force' This to Happen   Conservative blogger Allahpundit explains how Obama bypassed Congress. "How can the president 'force' American hospitals to alter their discrimination policies? The same way Bush 'forced' some medical researchers to avoid embryonic stem cells: By issuing an executive order denying them federal funding if they don’t comply."
  • OK, But Where Are Our Marriage Rights?  Liberal blogger Joe Sudbay holds Obama's feet to the fire. "Some of us are still wondering if we have a friend in the White House. Obviously, making sure gays and lesbians have 'the ability to visit each other in hospitals' became a key issue for the President. At least he's starting to deliver on that one. It's nice. But, frankly, I'd prefer he work on repealing DOMA and finally get around to supporting marriage equality."
  • We'll Get There  ChicagoNow's Ryan Justice takes the long view. "Sure, I want marriage equality, and Don't Ask Don't Tell is deplorable.  But when it comes down to it, this is the one inequality that truly works to separate gay couples in a times of need. We still have a ways to go before we are no longer second class citizens in the eyes of the law, but its one step closer to equality."