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Project 515 Proposes Legislation to Ensure Equality During Times of Illness and Death
Date:1/22/2009

final wishes.

Tim Reardon knows the pain and difficulty of discrimination first-hand. He and his long-time partner Eric had developed health care directives and other legal documents to protect their relationship and their daughter. Eric was later diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. It was only after Eric's death that gaps in the documents became painfully apparent. Though documents showed Tim as Eric's next of kin, the medical examiner and cremation society could not recognize Tim as such, due to an error on the forms.

"This was the most vulnerable time of my family's life. Yet my partner's wishes meant nothing," Reardon said. "I felt so betrayed and angry that our relationship would not be acknowledged."

Project 515 also highlighted two other legislative proposals today:

-- Preserving one's home -- During times of extreme illness, the state may step in to help a patient pay for needed medical care once the patient's own resources are exhausted. In return, the state may place a lien on the patient's home to recoup expenses. State law prohibits the enforcement of the lien until after the patient's surviving spouse also dies. However, a surviving same-sex partner does not have an equal right. Project 515's proposal will allow same-sex partners and their families to stay in their homes following the death of a loved one.

-- Seeking justice after a wrongful death -- If a spouse is wrongfully killed, such as in a car accident, the surviving spouse may sue the person responsible to recover medical or funeral expenses. Same-sex partners do not have the same right and instead must cover expenses on their own. Project 515 proposes changing the law's language to provide same-sex couples the same right to recover the costs of a wrongful death.

A statewide survey conducted by Decision Resources, a leading Minnesota polling firm, found that Minnesotans value fairn
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SOURCE Project 515
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