Sidelined Survivors? Already Grief-Stricken, Same-Sex Partners of Terrorist Attack Victims May Have to Fight for Equal Benefits. (Terrorism Aftermath)

Article excerpt

Millions of dollars have poured into public and private relief agencies since the September 11 terrorist attacks. But activists worry that the lack of legal recognition of same-sex relationships may make it hard for surviving partners of gay and lesbian victims to obtain benefits equal to those of straight spouses.

"With few exceptions, the people at relief agencies are not hostile," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, a New York gay political group. "But the bureaucratic systems and processes they represent and work in are" when it comes to recognizing gay survivors and partners.

Foreman said officials of the American Red Cross, for example, have promised his group that they would "treat surviving partners as spouses. But so far they haven't produced a written system for how that would would work, and that's ridiculous."

Red Cross spokeswoman Kelly Alexander confirmed that "there are no specific guidelines" for dealing with same-sex partners but added that "if the person listed as the next of kin is the partner of a same-sex couple, then that's who we deal with. …