Gay Partner of 9/11 Victim Urges California to Support Freedom to Marry

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Keith Bradkowski: "I am vulnerable in ways I never imagined."
February 11, 2002

(LOS ANGELES, Monday, February 11, 2002) — A gay California man whose partner died in the September 11 terrorist attacks says the plight he now faces vividly shows why his home state must allow lesbian and gay couples to marry.

“Jeff and I got as close to marriage as we could with our domestic partnership,” says Keith Bradkowski, whose partner of 11 years, Jeff Collman, was a flight attendant killed in the attacks. “But it wasn’t protection enough, and now I am legally vulnerable in ways I never imagined.”

Lambda Legal represents the Novato, California, resident as he struggles for fair treatment from government and private compensation programs. On Monday, February 11, Bradkowski and Lambda Senior Attorney Jennifer Pizer joined other surviving family members for a briefing about the Federal Fund with Special Master Kenneth R. Feinberg in Sacramento.

Bradkowski will speak in Los Angeles on the evening of Tuesday, February 12 at “Celebration of Commitment” rally on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

The rally is part of the fifth annual National Freedom to Marry Day, which is prompting community gatherings and public rallies across the country.

In December, Feinberg released regulations for the Federal Fund that leave the door open to compensation for surviving lesbian and gay partners, although they did not explicitly acknowledge gay partners in the same way as married spouses. This left survivors like Bradkowski confused and worried about whether he will receive appropriate recognition.

“In times of crisis, we see how important legal protections are for families,” said Pizer before the meeting with Feinberg. “The plight of Keith and other surviving gay partners shows how desperately our families need the secure safety net of the civil marriage laws.”

The Santa Monica rally kicks off a statewide 90-day campaign by Marriage Equality California, a community activist group, to secure 2,500 endorsements in support of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. At the event, Lambda Legal and Marriage Equality California will release "Roadmap To Equality,” an educational guide for freedom-to-marry activists in California.

Lambda Legal is assisting numerous lesbian and gay partners of September 11 victims and urges anyone needing help to contact a Lambda office.

  • For more about problems facing lesbian and gay partners of September 11 victims or to interview Keith Bradkowski and Lambda Senior Attorney Jennifer Pizer, contact Lambda at 212-809-8585.
  • “Celebration of Commitment” rally, Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, 7 p.m.
  • Coordinates for Video feed of Bradkowski and Freedom to Marry Day events:
    Tuesday, February 12, 3:30p-3:45p PT, Satellite (Ku analog): AMC3/transponder K19 (formerly GE3)
    Downlink frequency: 12080 horizontal, Audio subcarriers: 6.2 & 6.8

Contact: Jennifer Pizer 323-937-2728 x 223 213 590 5903 (cell)
Peg Byron 212-809-8585 x 230, 888-987-1984 (pager)


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