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.