On June 24th, The Human Rights Campaign praised President Bush for
signing the Mychal Judge Act, providing a federal payment to the
beneficiaries of public safety officers killed in the line of duty,
including those killed in the September 11terrorist attacks without a
surviving legally recognized spouse, son, daughter or parent. This action
was a simple matter of fairness that deserves our highest praise, says HRC.
"This bill honors the memory of heroes who, in the line of duty, showed
uncommon sacrifice in helping other people," said HRC executive director
Elizabeth Birch. "In a time of national crisis we watched these courageous
individuals rise to the occasion, and it is only fitting that Congress and
the President rose to the occasion to treat their families with the
sensitivity and respect they deserve."
Under current law, only spouses, children or parents of public
safety officers who die in the line of duty are entitled to receive $250,000
in federal death benefits. Beneficiaries named by fallen public safety
officers – including siblings, and same-sex or opposite-sex domestic
partners – will be eligible to collect federal money. The "Mychal Judge"
bill was named after the New York firefighter chaplain who was gay. The
House version of the bill was sponsored by Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and
Donald Manzullo, R-Ill. The Senate version was sponsored by Sens. Patrick
Leahy, D-Vt., Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo.,
Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y, and Joseph Biden, D-Del.
"We especially want to thank Reps. Nadler and Manzullo and Sen.
Leahy for their outstanding leadership in working to pass legislation that
is a simple matter of fairness and deserves the highest praise," added HRC
political director Winnie Stachelberg. "We are also grateful for the
instrumental and supportive role played by the National Association of
Police Organizations and the International Association of Fire Fighters in
their tireless support of this legislation."
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