Second Class Survivors
Gay and lesbian partners of Sept. 11 victims are struggling to
be recognized as legitimate partners by the federal government, but
the American Red Cross is offering disaster relief to them, reports
Andy Humm in The Village Voice.
Gay groups, like New York’s Empire State Pride Agenda, lobbied the
American Red Cross and Gov. George Pataki immediately after the
attacks, asking them to acknowledge gay partners as dependents
eligible for relief. As a result, the American Red Cross decided to
include them in their aid package.
On the federal level domestic partners are not recognized, but some
politicians — like gay senior House member Barney Frank — are
trying to convince Congress of the legitimacy of their claims.
While Frank says expecting Congress to pass gay-inclusive language
is ‘wildly optimistic,’ he has his sights set on Attorney General
John Ashcroft. Ashcroft will decide over the next few weeks which
survivors are entitled to Airline Stabilization Act relief —
amounting to probably $1 million for each survivor who forgoes a
lawsuit against the airlines.
The debate has divided groups along party lines, with conservatives
leaning toward keeping domestic partners from claiming benefits.
The Salvation Army reinforced this recently by rescinding benefits
for gay partners of employees after facing scrutiny from the
Christian right. Still, the domestic partnership issue makes for
strange bedfellows, with Republican and ex-President Gerald Ford
endorsing equal treatment for gay couples.
Salvation Army Rescinds Domestic Partners
Benefits, Bill Berkowitz, WorkingForChange