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Gay New York
couples get rights over partner's remains

Gay New York
couples get rights over partner's remains

A bill signed by New York's Republican governor on Friday gives domestic partners the right to make burial decisions.

New York's Republican governor, George Pataki, signed a bill on Friday allowing same-sex domestic partners to decide on the handling of their partner's remains. The new law puts important burial decisions in the hands of common-law spouses instead of surviving children or parents. "This is the first time in New York State law same-sex relationships have been given priority over a blood relative," said Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, New York's civil rights organization. "This is a victory for our families."

After losing her partner to cancer in 2004, Terry Checksfield of Phoenix, N.Y., had to endure the partner's estranged family taking her body away. "I am so thankful our government has finally done something about this," Checksfield said about the legislation. "After I lost Barbara, I wasn't allowed to go the funeral and still can't visit her grave. No one should ever have to go through what I went through. Now no one will."

The bill, applying to opposite-sex domestic partners as well, breezed through the Republican-led state senate 58-0 and cleared the Democratic-led assembly 94-25. (

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