Gay and lesbian Katrina victims
Katrina Delivers Second Blow To Gay Families:
Recovering from the devastation of hurricane Katrina may be particularly difficult for same-sex couples who are not recognized in any of the three states directly hit by the storm or in those states where refugees have fled.
Louisiana has a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and prevents the state from recognizing any legal status for common-law relationships, domestic partnerships or civil unions. Mississippi and Alabama both have defense of marriage acts which also deny rights to gay and lesbian couples.
The Federal Defense of Marriage Act prevents FEMA from providing any relief in the form of family benefits to same-sex couples.
The laws also will directly impact gay and lesbian families where one partner has died as a result of the hurricane.
Federal DOMA bars Social Security survivor benefits. State benefits would also be denied.
If the deceased partner were the birth or adoptive parent of the couple's children those children could be removed from the care of the other parent and placed in foster care.
Should the family home be in the name of the deceased partner the survivor would have no rights. Any insurance payouts could go to the estate of the deceased and if there is no will would go to the closest blood relative.
In cases where one partner is hospitalized the other partner would not be guaranteed visitation rights or any say in medical care.
Surviving same-sex partners even could be denied any say in funeral or burial decisions.
I ... I don't really have any words for this. Just ... damn.