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Pataki raises lesbian unemployment issue

Pataki raises lesbian unemployment issue

New York governor George Pataki has asked the state's labor department to reconsider its denial of unemployment insurance benefits for out lesbian Jeanne Newland. People from New York who quit their jobs to relocate with their spouses--or even with people to whom they are engaged to marry--qualify for unemployment. But when Newland moved from Rochester to Richmond, Va., when her partner, Natasha Doty, found a better job there, she learned that she was ineligible because she isn't married to Doty. The governor's request comes after the New York gay rights group Empire State Pride Agenda raised the issue with him and after Newland, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a lawsuit to overturn the department's decision. "We thank Governor Pataki for asking the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board to reconsider its denial of unemployment benefits to Jeanne Newland," said ESPA executive director Alan Van Capelle. "We hope the board will reverse its decision and provide Jeanne Newland with the benefits she deserves." By weighing in on the Newland case, Pataki continues New York's trend of recognizing that state benefits and programs set up to support New York families during a time of need should also apply to same-sex families, ESPA said in a press release. This trend began soon after September 11, 2001, when Pataki signed an executive order granting the same Crime Victims Board benefits to lesbian and gay partners of September 11 victims that married spouses of heterosexual victims received. Last October the Crime Victims Board extended this benefit to surviving domestic partners of homicide victims on a permanent basis.

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