vrijdag, januari 28, 2005

Rachael's letter

To: Chairman John Edmonds and committee members
From: Rachael K. Pirner
Attorney at Law
Wichita, Kansas

Re: Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 1601

I know a woman. She is 32 years old. On Tuesday, January 18, 2005 she was told by her physician that she had cancer in her kidneys and had ten days or less to live. Her doctor referred her to hospice so that she could die at home. That same day her parents, who are from out of state, found out that she is gay and has been in a three-year relationship. The woman, with the death sentence, is my client.

I am a lawyer in private practice. I have chosen to provide pro bono (for free) legal work for hospice patients since I began practice 15 years ago.

I met my client, her parents and her partner on January 20, 2005. The meeting lasted 3 hours. The duration of the meeting was not because my client’s estate was complicated but because probate law does not allow her the same legal options that a husband and wife who reside in Kansas have. After much discussion a strategy was decided upon. The result of that strategy was to attempt to pass my client’s property outside of a probate estate in part to her partner and in part to her family.

I prepared the documents and returned for a meeting with my client on January 21, 2005 (another 2 hours). Her health decline was apparent. She signed her Last Will and other documents and I advised her parents and partner that I could not be sure that the strategy to pass the property without the necessity of probate would work--Advice that would not have been necessary if my client been married.

That night, on my way home I thought about what it would be like to get a 10-day death sentence. Then I thought about what it would be like to find out that instead of two brief meetings with a lawyer I would squander precious hours to try to put a plan in place so that my loved ones could receive my assets. I thought about the fact that she had so little time to spend with the people that matter to her and that she matters to. I am sorry that a chunk of her good time, her partner’s time and her family’s time was spent with a stranger, who was a lawyer.

This bill is wrong. I am quite sure that you have heard or will hear all of the legal reasons and economic reasons it is wrong. The purpose of my testimony is to put a face on discrimination. There are those who will say that the law can somehow be applied in such a way that our gay community members achieve the same legal results as our heterosexual community members. Sadly, in my client’s case, the reality of that legal result is maybe and the answer will only come after she has burned precious hours of her remaining life with a stranger and after she dies.

Please vote to oppose Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 1601.


To: Rachael K. Pirner
Attorney at Law
Wichita, Kansas
From: Scott Curry
Attorney at Law
Utrecht, The Netherlands

Re: Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 1601

Dear Rachael,

You rock.

I miss you.

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Granetta, Carol, Nancy and Rachael

I've never had a male mentor, but I've been tremendously touched and influenced by four strong, smart, compassionate women who have guided me.
My grandmother was excentric. She insisted on being called "Granetta" (her name was "Netta"). Chewing glass would have been preferable to her being called "Grandma" or "Grandmother". She just was not your typical grandma. At 80, she rode her first camel, and could still do the plough pose in yoga. She believed there was something she called a "golden link" between me and her. I understand now that she was right. She gave me music; so much music that I frequently rebelled and resisted her gift. She sent me to Europe when I was 15 because she saw that something inside of me was dying and that I needed to see there was something more out there. Although no one knew it but her, that trip probably saved my life. I was fortunate to be with her when she died, and I am sure she'll be next to me when I go.
Carol Konek was my next mentor. I met her while I was in college. She was an Associate Dean of my college, and also eccentric. Although I spent 7 years in college and had way more hours than were required, were it not for her, I don't think I would have graduated. The crap they wanted me to go through to get what I considered to be just a useless piece of paper was just too much. Besides being a friend, Carol led me through all of the administrative tasks, constantly telling me that I had to understand that the real problem with the world was that it was filled with people who had very tiny little assholes, and that made life so difficult for them that they had no choice but to make life difficult for others as well.
Nancy Maxwell, who is still a law professor, got me through law school. She told me, when I considered dropping out in my second year, that I really should finish, mainly because I had unfortunately already learned too much to ever be fit for decent human conversation again. Nancy and I became very good friends after I graduated. I worked for her and she supported me (both psychologically and through referrals) after law school. She also introduced me to Ian, who she met while at an international gay law conference in Italy. I miss working with her.
Finally, there's Rachael. When I moved back to Wichita, Rachael kept me sane and taught me everything I know about how to be a good lawyer. She's the best. Smart, honest and very compassionate. She's made the world better and I know, seeing her and her husband with their kids, that her two boys will do the same. I don't regret much about leaving Wichita, but going through life without knowing that Rachael is 10 minutes away leads the list.
She wrote the letter, above, to help counter the current push to modify the Kansas Constitution, which, if passed, will grant the state the power to use the Constitution to deny lesbian and gay persons rights that all heterosexuals take for granted.
If you need a good lawyer, she's your gal. Tell her I sent you.

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maandag, januari 24, 2005

Flights from Wichita

Bill says, "Northwest Airlines just advertised a fare from Wichita to Europe (and I assume Amsterdam) at about $520 that covers the time period of the wedding."


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dinsdag, januari 18, 2005

Why I love this country

What's on TV tonight, honey?


DOCUMENTARY: Auschwitz The Final Solution

DOCUMENTARY: The Power Of Nightmares (1)
The first of three films about the rise of the politics of fear. The series demonstrates how the threat of Islamist terrorism has been distorted and exaggerated by politicians. While there is a terrorist threat from radical Islamism, the idea that we are faced by a terrifying hidden organisation orchestrated by evil mastermind Osama bin Laden is a fantasy. It is a myth that has spread unquestioned through politics, the security services and the international media. At the heart of the story are two groups: the American neoconservatives and the radical Islamists. Both groups were idealistic, born out of the failure of the liberal dream to build a better world. Together they created today's nightmare vision of an organised terror network. Part 2 on Wednesday.


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dinsdag, januari 11, 2005

Things that give me a headache

Turning fort-eight pages of this:

"Especially the care and education are the rights from concerning which the expression of the views of the child who is capable of forming these views and taking into attention them according to the child's age and maturity have the greatest importance."

into this:

"The views of the child capable of judgment, given the child’s age and level of maturity, are of the greatest importance, especially when considering the rights of care and education."


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vrijdag, januari 07, 2005

Ian's Graduation

I've been meaning to post these pictures for quite awhile, just haven't gotten around to it yet.
I made a trip to Utrecht last year. I came for Ian's graduation ceremony. We flew from here to London, then took the train to Cambridge, where he got his Master's last March.
Actually, he graduated several years ago. Cambridge and Oxford do degrees differently than anyplace I know about. You go to school, get your Bachelor's degree, then you leave. A couple of years later, if you're not dead or in jail, they have you come back for a day and give you a Master's.
The ceremony was in Latin, so I was lost. I'm sure it would have been very meaningful, several centuries ago to anyone who spoke that language. I would have taken pictures inside, but cameras were forbidden.
Ian went to Cambridge's Christ College, where he was President of his class. He won't tell you this unless you ask, but he got a first in law. He also won't tell you unless you ask that a "first" at Cambridge is what they call those who are first in their college.
Oh wait - he now says the reason he won't tell you that is because that's not right at all. He tells me that a "first" is the same as an "A" at a U.S. college. "So you weren't first in your college?" I ask.
"Well, yes," he says, "I was. But I wasn't first in the University, I was fourth."
Annoying little piglet, isn't he? But he still won't tell you any of that unless you ask.

On to the photos...

This is Ian's Mom, Dad and Ian standing in front of the place the ceremony was, on the windiest of windy days.


Ian's cowl, from the back. Don't worry, no animals were killed to make these worthy-of-a-drag-queen garments.

This is Ian and the colleagues he most relied on while he was at Cambridge (not to say that he doesn't still): Adam, Becca, Katrina and Matt. I'm not sure where Portia is. Or Vicky, who I have heard so much about. Sadly, I never actually met the witch her.

Ian's mum couldn't stand all that fake fur on her son instead of her. Here she is, asking the world to believe that she is the happy graduate.

Ian & Jean

Later that night we went for dinner to celebrate. Many toasts were made. Here's Becca, Portia, trying to keep up with Jean.

And all of us at the table: Me (sliding off my chair), Ian, Adam, Becca, Portia, Jean, Ray & Katrina

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A new year and a new job?

I've been busy, sorry there've been no posts for awhile. Mostly I've been editing from home. I've also been doing some baking. Ian's folks gave us an oven for Christmas. It's pretty darn wonderful.
Wichita was hit by an ice storm, 67,000 are still without power. 17 degrees Farenheit. Everyone should have power back by this time next week.
(Taken by Michael Kuss on his property in Butler County, Kansas)

I called my renters and my house is fine. Although they lost power, it was only for a couple of hours. Luckily, all the trees made it.
Pat is without power, though. She, Sid and Molly are staying with Sid's mom for the duration. "At least it's not a Tsunami," says Pat.
Mom has power, but her doors are frozen shut. She said she burned a piece of toast and couldn't open a window to get rid of the smell. Not good, but she was also counting her blessings; it wasn't a tidal wave.
Meanwhile, the weather here has been great. Ian and I took a stroll down the old canal the other night. It was really nice - the Christmas lights are still up in the trees and on the bridges over the canals.
The news - I think I'm going to take a new job. Ian and I met with the President of Translegal today, and really liked what he's doing. It's too early to talk about it in detail yet, but I think what he wants and the types of things I want to do are a good match. If everything goes well, I'll make a trip to Stockholm next month to train, then start. I hear February isn't the best time to visit stockholm, but I'm looking forward to it. I haven't been to Sweden before, and I've wanted to visit. Lucky you, more pictures!


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