Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

New Hurdles for Survivors: How Will Gay Survivors of the September 11 Attacks Cash in on the Federal Compensation Fund? (Domestic-Partner Benefits)

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

New Hurdles for Survivors: How Will Gay Survivors of the September 11 Attacks Cash in on the Federal Compensation Fund? (Domestic-Partner Benefits)

Article excerpt

It's a brand-new year, but the surviving partners of gay people killed in the September 11 attacks may feel as if they're stuck in the past. The Department of Justice's recent decision to refer to individual state laws to determine eligibility for the federal government's September 11th Victim Compensation Fund leaves gay people in legal limbo.

"Throwing it back to state law has reinforced the problems that already exist for same-sex partners to protect themselves," said Jennifer Middleton, staff attorney for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, based in New York City. "In no state can we be married, so we won't be treated as spouses under these regulations."

According to Middleton, each case involving same-sex partners will have to be argued individually before Justice Department special master Kenneth Feinberg. Specifics such as whether the couples were registered partners or had drawn up legal wills shall factor into each decision.

Further complicating the situation is the legal stipulation that only one person may serve as the personal representative for each estate. That creates problems for surviving members of couples who did not designate each other as executor. …

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