Gay Democrats and Republicans Unite to Support Families of Terror Victims

November 26, 2001 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(Washington, DC) – In a display of bipartisan unity, the leading Republican and Democratic organizations in the gay and lesbian community have written a joint "public comment" to the Department of Justice (DOJ) concerning survivor benefits for those killed in the September 11th terrorist attacks.

"We at Log Cabin Republicans and NSD are united in seeking to do all we can to console and assist those whose lives were forever changed by the losses suffered during the September 11th attack on our nation," wrote Rich Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, and Chad Johnson, executive director of National Stonewall Democrats, in a letter to the DOJ Office of Management Programs, Civil Division.

Attorney General John Ashcroft issued a Notice of Inquiry and Advance Notice of Rulemaking seeking public comment on matters relating to the implementation of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001. The Fund, passed as part of the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act, allows for compensation for survivors of victims of the September 11th attacks.

Under the Act, the Attorney General will appoint a Special Master to administrate the Fund. DOJ will shortly promulgate regulations directing the scope and operations of the Office of the Special Master, which will include criteria for determining who is eligible for survivor benefits.

The Notice of Inquiry solicited public comments that advise the DOJ on how to direct the Special Master in administering the Fund. Log Cabin Republicans and NSD issued a joint comment to address questions that affect the families of gay and lesbian victims of the terrorist attacks. Among other things, the comment directed the DOJ to examine the actions of New York Governor George Pataki relating to such matters. On October 11, Governor Pataki ordered the State of New York, when determining survivors for state fund purposes, to include factors that identified and included gay and lesbian partners and families.

"The issue of supporting all the families who were devastated by these attacks on America is so important that there should be no divisions between us," said Rich Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "We are a united community in support of our families in need, speaking with one voice in this joint action today."

"We are working together to ensure that the survivors of gay and lesbian partners aren't forgotten," said Chad Johnson, NSD Executive Director. "We urge the federal government to follow the lead of Governor Pataki to make sure that valid relationships of all kinds are recognized."

"Our goal is to be a resource for the Special Master in identifying legitimate survivors in a manner that transcends party politics," said Johnson. "We are first Americans, then partisans, and I can't imagine that anyone has even contemplated the party affiliation of any victim or survivor."

"By acting in unison, we hope to demonstrate that the questions we raise are concerns that surpass politics," said Tafel.