EXECUTIVE ORDER D-54-02


WHEREAS, the catastrophic events of September 11th left our great nation in a state of unimaginable grief and changed our world forever; and

WHEREAS, all four hijacked planes were bound for California and carried more than 100 brave Californians who paid the ultimate price for our freedom; and

WHEREAS, the terrorist forces that committed these violent, horrendous crimes have inflicted great pain and suffering that will last for generations by claiming the lives of innocent men, women and children; and

WHEREAS, the families of these Californians will never be able to feel the touch of a spouse or a partner lost, know the dreams of a child lost, or benefit from the wisdom of a parent or grandparent lost; and

WHEREAS, there are an estimated 156 California families struggling with emotional devastation as well as severe financial losses, while facing confusing legal and practical decisions regarding the estates of their suddenly deceased loved ones; and

WHEREAS, shortly after the September 11th attacks, Congress passed and the President signed a federal statute establishing the "September 11 Victim Compensation Fund of 2001," to provide humane assistance to those surviving family members and loved ones who have been stricken due to the loss of essential emotional and financial support from those who perished; and

WHEREAS, rules have been adopted to implement this statute's promise of victim compensation to survivors which look to the law of each decedent's domicile to ascertain who is authorized to present claims and to be recognized as proper beneficiaries of the federal fund; and

WHEREAS, California law recognizes domestic partners as proper recipients of victim compensation in cases of direct victimization and derivative victimization by violent crime; and

WHEREAS, California law since January, 2000 has granted legal and official recognition to domestic partners who meet the requirements of California law and register their relationship with the state; and

WHEREAS, California law provides registered domestic partners the rights to pursue tort damages for wrongful death in the same manner as a spouse; and

WHEREAS, California law recognizes registered domestic partners in a priority position comparable to spouses for purposes of seeking appointment as the administrator or personal representative of the estate of a deceased partner whenever the partner can be considered a beneficiary thereof;

NOW THEREFORE, I, GRAY DAVIS
, Governor of the State of California, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and the statutes of the State of California, do hereby issue this order:

IT IS ORDERED
that effective immediately, the California Victims Compensation and Government Claims Board shall provide all appropriate information, assistance and service to California families, including domestic partners registered with the Secretary of State, who are suffering emotional and financial losses due to the September 11th tragedy.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED
that the California Victims Compensation and Government Claims Board shall communicate to Special Master Kenneth R. Feinberg, administrator of the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and request the Special Master look to and consider in his deliberations, the various provisions of California state law, including those laws pertaining to the rights and responsibilities of domestic partners, California's wrongful death statutes, and California's victim compensation program regulations, so those who have suffered the loss of their spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child can be extended every possible consideration and benefit under the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001.

I FURTHER DIRECT that as soon as hereafter possible, this order shall be filed in the Office of the Secretary of State and that widespread publicity and notice be given to this order.