No respite for surviving partners – September 11 – gay World Trade Center victims – Brief Article
The six-month anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks found the surviving same-sex partners of those killed with little more than memories of their loved ones to cling to. On March 10 Kenneth Feinberg, the special master in charge of the federal victims’ compensation fund, told NBC’s Tim Russert that he had to “rely on state law” when it came to distributing funds to victims’ same-sex partners. Since laws vary from state to state, that leaves many survivors without legal recognition of their relationships and no guarantee of compensation.
“This situation underscores how the lack of state and federal laws to protect gay relationships can cause pain and problems for a lot of people,” said David Smith, communications director of gay rights advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign.
Of course, no amount of financial compensation or even legal recognition is enough to make up for the loss of a partner. And for at least one man, that loss proved too much to bear. Mike Lyons was with his partner of 17 years, John Keohane, when Keohane was killed by falling debris outside the World Trade Center on September 11.
On March 1–Lyons’s 41st birthday and just days before he was due to receive a check from the American Red Cross–Lyons took his own life.
“Mike [had been] very emotional and fragile–even more so than the other people we dealt with,” Joe Tarver of the Empire State Pride Agenda told the New York Blade News. “John was everything to him.”
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