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Reform Jewish Movement Welcomes the Expansion of Survivor Benefits to Domestic Partners

Pelavin: The President's action in signing the Mychal Judge Act is a declaration of fairness and patriotism, a statement that all who fall in the line of duty, regardless of sexual orientation, are heroes.

Contact:Daniel Kaufman or Lauren Schumer (202) 387-2800

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2002 -- Mark Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, applauded President Bush for signing the Mychal Judge Act on Monday. The legislation expands the categories of people who qualify as beneficiaries and can collect payment of $250,000 in federal death benefits guaranteed to public safety officers killed in the line of duty. Under previously existing law, only parents, spouses and children of the deceased were eligible for the benefit; the Mychal Judge Act also allows the benefit to be paid to the individual designated as beneficiary under the deceased's life insurance policy, including siblings and same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partners.


The bill is named after Father Mychal Judge, a gay New York City Fire Department chaplain who was killed while administering last rites to a firefighter during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11.

The full text of Mr. Pelavin's statement follows:


President Bush's action in signing the Mychal Judge Act is a modest but important step toward equality for all. The Judge Act is a declaration of fairness and patriotism, a statement that all who fall in the line of duty, regardless of sexual orientation, are heroes. This legislation is a powerful message that this country must be unified in our mission to protect freedom, liberty and equality for all.


We also applaud the expansion of the benefit program to include public safety officer chaplains. As Father Judge's heroism demonstrates, they, too, risk their lives every day.

We call upon Congress, as well as state and local governments, to look to the principles of the Mychal Judge Act as an example. Let us join together in crushing homophobia, expelling it from our schools, our places of work, and, especially, our legal code.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) , whose over 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes over 1800 Reform rabbis .



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