Friends,

This (following) is a copy of a letter received by me (ostensibly on behalf
of the Queer Montclair in Montclair, New Jersey) organization today.

It details a situation that should be of serious concern to every citizen of
Montclair (New Jersey) and every attorney and activistand involved in the
issues presented, and in particular to gay or lesbian home-owners. I have
eliminated the names of the parties involved pending their permission to
publicize this issue and their involvement in it.

It hardly needs saying that this is an outrage. It's more than an outrage -
it is a disgrace. Since the
election of an openly homophobic township councillor (Sandra Lang
representing Montclair's 4th ward) things seem to have taken a turn for the
uglier locally.

I would be very grateful for any comments and observations you may have to
share. (Letter follows.)

Many thanks,
Bill Courson
--------------------------

Dear XXX (Name of Public Official),

I wrote you several months ago supporting your
"Domestic Partner" bill, and then waited patently for
July when it would become law. At the time [in June]
thinking that Montclair was a "gay friendly" and
"patriotic" town, we informed the township
tax-assessor, that New Jersey has granted 100%
disabled veterans, and their spouses "tax exempt
status" on their home, and that I [XXX} a retired
Staff Sgt. of the USAF, and my partner Mr. XXX was
entitled to this 100% tax exempt status. We wrote
that we were "Married" in Canada, had a "Civil Union"
in the state of Vermont, and that we intended to sign
the "Domestic Partner" as soon as it came into effect.


The Montclair tax-assessor wrote us back saying that
she was canceling my 100% Disabled Veterans tax-exempt
status, and if we wished, we could appeal to Essex
County. This we did and it was denied with no
explanation.

I do not see where the Montclair tax-assessor has the
authority to cancel an exemption that has been granted
to disabled veterans by the state of New Jersey, one
that had been approved by the Montclair City Council
when we bought our home in 1985. I feel that the
Montclair tax-collector has overstepped her authority;
it is not in her job description to deny/cancel a
tax-exempt status that is granted by the State, and
approved by the Veterans Administration. Her action
in canceling a State Directive of Tax Exemption for a
100% Disabled Veteran should be declared
'null-in-void'. Her action at this time of 'National
Emergency' brings dishonor upon the "Gay Friendly?"
township of Montclair.

I joined the military in 1952, served 15 years of
active duty [5 years in Europe - 1 year in Saudi
Arabia (1957 & 1958 protecting the oil interests of
ARAMCO), 1 year in the Middle-East during the Vietnam
War, and several years in the USA]

The VA has always considered my partner, Mr. XXX as my
spouse. In 1983 when I had colon cancer, the doctors
told my partner weeks before my operation, for I was
too ill. They wanted to build me up so that the
operation would be a success. I was told the night
before the operation that I had cancer, and that there
was a 50/50 chance of survival. I am still here, but
it was a long recovery.

In 1990 when I had a heart attack while on a camping
trip, I was in a VA hospital in Idaho, and when it
came time to fly back home to New Jersey, the doctor
wrote a letter stating that my partner was my spouse,
so we could get discounted airfare. I then had a
triple-bi-pass, which was a 50/50 chance of survival
at that time. It has bee a long recovery, thanks to
my partner/spouse XXX at my side.

At age [72 in December] it is beyond my comprehension
that I [we] should have to go through such a miserable
situation, that should have been handled in a better
manner. I have had many sleepless nights, thanks to
our tax-assessor. If I'm not mistaken, the township
of Montclair would not suffer any monetary loss in
honoring the New Jersey 100% tax-exemption status for
disabled veterans, as I believe the state reimburse
the town. So why the refusal?

I would appreciate your help and assistance

Sincerely

XXX

 

Copyright 2004 by Bill Courson, reprinted with permission