Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2017-08-16
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Federal court: Florida death certificates must reflect same-sex relationships
From a press release
2017-03-23

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


( Miami March 23, 2017 ) —Today, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida ruled that the state must issue accurate death certificates to all surviving same-sex spouses. This is a victory for Lambda Legal clients Hal Birchfield and Paul Mocko, two gay widowers, and all other surviving same-sex spouses who were denied accurate death certificates for their deceased spouses that acknowledge they were married and recognize them as the surviving spouses.

"We are thrilled that the Court has put an end to the way the State of Florida was erasing whole lives spent together when it refused to issue corrected death certificates recognizing married same-sex couples unless the surviving spouse obtained a court order. Hal and Paul and other Florida widows and widowers like them suffered at the hands of the state all because their spouses died before the state's marriage ban was struck down," said Karen Loewy, Counsel for Lambda Legal. "These surviving same-sex spouses should never have been forced to bear the burden of the state's discrimination, but that discrimination ends today. Hal, Paul, and other surviving same-sex spouses in Florida can't get their loved ones back, but now all Florida surviving same-sex spouses will have the respect and dignity of accurate death certificates that recognize their relationships."

Paul Mocko and Greg Patterson were together for 26 years and, in April 2014, they were married in San Francisco. Having met in the 1980s, the two men, like so many gay men of their generation, were told to spend down their life's assets after becoming HIV positive because they were not expected to live very long. When they survived, they had to rebuild their lives from scratch. Paul and Greg moved to Fort Lauderdale in 2009 as they prepared to take care of Greg's mother, but the move was a struggle financially and they had to declare bankruptcy. They were living on limited income from Social Security and other benefits when Greg was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. In July 2014, just months after their wedding, Greg passed away. When Paul received Greg's death certificate, it said Greg was never married and in the section for spouse, it said "none." Having lost the love of his life and half of the couple's joint income, Paul has experienced tremendous financial stress since Greg's death. When he sought to get Greg's death certificate amended, he was told that he would not be able to get it corrected without a court order, which includes a filing fee of $401 and required that he obtain legal representation.

"This is great news. I didn't know where I would have found the money to pay for an accurate death certificate for Greg. It is a relief to know that I won't have to get a court order just to have the State respect our relationship," Paul said.

After more than 40 years together, Hal Birchfield and James Merrick Smith traveled to New York in October 2012 and got married. Tragically, less than a year later, in September 2013, James died at the age of 94. Upon James's death, Hal received a death certificate that failed to list James's marital status as married, and failed to list Hal as his spouse. Lambda Legal successfully represented Birchfield in another matter in October 2015 when the Miami-Dade County Office of Property Appraisal agreed to reinstate his spousal homestead protections.

Lambda Legal filed this case in December 2015 arguing that the state of Florida's refusal to issue amended death certificates to Birchfield, Mocko, and other surviving same sex spouses deprives these widows and widowers of the same protections different-sex widows and widowers receive and compounds the discrimination they have already faced at the hands of the State. Today, the Court recognized that surviving same-sex spouses, "…are entitled to appropriate injunctive relief correcting the state's prior, unremedied violation of the plaintiffs' constitutional rights."

"The state of Florida discriminated against us and disrespected our relationship in life and even in James' death, but this decision will ensure that I and all the other surviving same-sex spouses will finally have accurate death certificates that honor our relationships," said Hal Birchfield.

Read the decision here: www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/birchfield_fl_20170323_summary-judgment .

Read the class certification:www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/birchfield_fl_20170323_class-cert .

We are consulting with lawyers for the Department of Health, and we will have an FAQ available once we have more information.

Counsels Karen L. Loewy and Tara L. Borelli are handling the matter. They are joined by co-counsel David P. Draigh and Stephanie S. Silk of White & Case LLP.


facebook twitter google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Trans advocates discuss military ban 2017-08-16 - Officials from the Trans United Fund, an advocacy working on behalf of transgender and gender-expansive individuals and their allies, and SPART*A, an organization ...


Gay News

Hate-crimes summit Oct. 25 2017-08-16 - In Chicago, a coalition of community advocates, government agencies and law-enforcement officials will take part Wed., Oct. 25, in the Chicago Commission on ...


Gay News

National roundup: Trans-ban responses, NYC beating, History Month Icons 2017-08-15 - The American Military Partner Association ( AMPA ) responded to comments made by President Donald Trump regarding the service of transgender troops and ...


Gay News

World news: Australia and marriage, gay journalist, Pakistani bill 2017-08-15 - Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's decision to come out opposing same-sex marriage is not going down well with his own sister, PinkNews ...


Gay News

Texas House Adjourns Without Passing New Anti-Transgender Bill 2017-08-15 - AUSTIN, Texas — Today, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer ( LGBTQ ) ...


Gay News

Demonstration planned for Federal Building Plaza Tuesday at 5 p.m. 2017-08-15 - A news conference and a demonstration are planned for Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. The news conference is to begin at 4:30 p.m. and ...


Gay News

Houston restroom bill dies again, 50,000+ Texans took action to oppose 2017-08-15 - A Texas "bathroom bill" targeting transgender people died again Aug. 15, a Houston Chronicle item reported. It is the second time that ...


Gay News

Sixteen trans, gay Central America migrants seek asylum in U.S. 2017-08-14 - A group of 16 transgender and gay migrants from Central America on Aug. 10 sought asylum in the United States. The migrants—who ...


Gay News

Chicagoans rally for Charlottesville 2017-08-13 - At least two events in support of anti-white supremacists protesters in Charlottesville were held in Chicago Aug. 13, the day after one woman ...


Gay News

Final arrested SlutWalk protester released on bail 2017-08-13 - SlutWalk Chicago supporters rallied at Cook County Jail Sunday afternoon Aug. 13 in support of the fifth and final marcher who had been ...


 



Copyright © 2017 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.