Kelsey Murphy Miles, cherished daughter of Kay Miles and Deb Murphy, passed away unexpectedly Nov. 12, 2017, in Los Angeles, where she had resided for the past five years. She was 26.
Kelsey and her moms were part of a precedent-setting case in Illinois adoption history. In 1995, the family, joined by another family, helped win the right of unmarried couples to have the same adoption rights as single parents and heterosexual married couples.
When the Illinois Appellate Court ruled in their favor, it set precedent in the state and opened up the door for many of other same-sex couples to have second-parent adoption rights.
At the time, Pat Logue, who represented the Murphy-Miles family and who was managing attorney for the midwest regional office of Lambda Legal, said the case was a "profound" victory "for the simple principle that sexual orientation is irrelevant in parenting. It is a powerful affirmation that the best interests of a child and not sexual orientation or marital status is what should control in any adoption decision."
The Chicago Tribune wrote: "In addition to expanding the ground rules for adoption, Tuesday's ruling has significant practical reasons. By recognizing unmarried couples as parents, the court gives children of such households access to the same benefits afforded the children of married couples, including health insurance, Social Security survivor benefits and inheritances."
Kelsey was born in Evanston, Illinois. She attended Baker Demonstration School in Evanston and the Chicago Waldorf School.
She loved acting from a very young age, studying first at the Piven Theatre Workshop and later at the Vancouver Film School and at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angelos.
Kelsey liked to say, "Somebody out there's doing your dream job, it might as well be you." She enjoyed each and every production she was a part of.
Kelsey saw beauty and humor in this weird and wonderful earthly world. She was an artist; a pure artist, seeing and feeling the surface, the depth and the true meaning of the world around her.
Throughout her life, Kelsey was known for her playful and radiant spirit, for her intelligence, courage and generous heart.
Kelsey had a wisdom and depth of love and understanding for all she met, always encouraging people to take the next step, whatever that may be.
Kelsey always loved her home. She enjoyed entertaining and hanging out with friends and with the many pets she adopted and loved over the years.
She also had a passion for travel and had visited Argentina, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Panama, the Bahamas, Finland, Estonia, Sweden, Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Japan, Canada, and most American states. She especially loved traveling with friends.
Kelsey's other hobbies included genealogy ( she was a member of the Mayflower Society ), swimming, snorkeling, horseback riding, ice skating, singing, dancing, painting, playing board games, shopping, wearing high heels, remembering everyone's birthday, and keeping in touch with friends from all over the world.
She is survived by her two moms in Evanston and by a myriad of loving aunts, uncles, cousins and dear friends.
Because of Kelsey's lifelong concern for homeless youth and her commitment to the LGBTQ community, donations in her memory may be made to the Crossroads Fund ( checks to Crossroads Fund, "Vernita Gray Youth Project," 3411 W. Diversey Ave., #20, Chicago, Illinois 60647 ), or the Pride Action Tank ( checks made to AIDS Foundation of Chicago, with "LGBTQ Homeless Youth Tiny Homes Project" in the memo, sent to AFC, attention: Jackie Thaney, 200 W. Jackson, Suite 2100, Chicago, Illinois 60606 ).
A memorial to celebrate her life will be held Sunday, Dec. 3, 1-4 p.m., Copper and Caviar, 1601 Payne St., Evanston. All are welcome.