In re Nancy Walsh
GLAD applied for and won compensation from the federal September 11 Victim Compensation Fund on behalf of Nancy Walsh, a lesbian whose partner of 13 years was one of the passengers on Flight 11 who died on September 11. Nancy came up against barriers that so often face same-sex partners in times of crisis. For example, her partner, Carol Flyzik, did not have a will, thus making Carol’s biological family the presumptive recipients of any compensation. Nor did Nancy have an automatic right to administer Carol’s estate or continue to live in the home that she and Carol shared.
GLAD helped Nancy to secure her partner’s death certificate so that she was able to proceed with matters relating to the probate of the estate, and assisted her in applying for compensation from the federal Fund. Nancy’s hearing was held on January 26. After considering the facts, the Special Master awarded a favorable monetary ruling for Nancy, compensating her for losses she incurred as a result of this tragedy.
Nancy’s case tragically underscores the vulnerability of same-sex relationships, and reminds us of the comprehensive protections that marriage provides for families.
The morning of September 11, 2001, after Nancy Walsh saw the morning news, after she ran to the refrigerator to check the flight itinerary her partner Carol Flyzik had left there, after she confirmed that Carol was scheduled to be on American Airlines Flight 11, she called the airline.
Maybe Carol had missed her flight. Maybe she was okay.
But even though Nancy and Carol had been together for 12 years, the airline wouldn’t talk to Nancy. They would only give information to family members, they said, and since she and Carol weren’t married, Nancy wasn’t family.
At 6 o’clock that night, more than nine hours after Nancy first flipped on the television, Carol’s sister called the airline and confirmed that Carol was on Flight 11.
Nancy and Carol, who were raising their three children in the small New Hampshire town of Plainstow, had designated each other as domestic partners at their jobs and named each other as beneficiaries on insurance policies and retirement accounts. But Carol hadn’t left a will. As far as New Hampshire was concerned, Nancy and Carol were legal strangers.
GLAD applied for and won for Nancy compensation from the federal September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, and also helped Nancy as she sought Carol’s death certificate, and dealt with probate issues. By helping her stand up for her rights and her relationship with Carol, GLAD helped Nancy reaffirm the life they shared together.