President Bill Clinton The White House Washington, D.C.


November 24, 1993

Dear Mr. President, (b)(6) My name is XX and I am a single parent of two children, ages ten and eight years. I am writing to you on behalf of these children and a law that I believe actually endangers my ability to provide for those children. The law in question is the Americans with Disabilities Act. As I understand it, the ADA is a blanket type of law. I have a unique circumstance for which, I believe, the law can be made more definite for. I am a funeral director and embalmer who owns a small (two employees besides myself) funeral home XX I have been under fire by local AIDS activists for helping refer families of people passing away who have the AIDS virus to funeral homes in my community who have no problem with the HIV virus. My decision was based upon three main criteria. First, and foremost, I do not believe that I should have the right as a parent and small business operator to be able to choose what risks I should take in my profession. I need to be around this world to be able to take care of my children and I do not relish the fact that I may become even a tenth of a percentage point in some statistic. My second reason was that my own state board of funeral directors and embalmers told me that they (the board) had no law which forced me to handle such a risk as the HIV virus presents. Thirdly, the other funeral establishments in our community do accept cases involving HIV virus and I believed that I could help families by working with them in finding another establishment of their choice and in any other way possible. A local physician who is also head of her own local AIDS activist group asked me if I would like to be on the list of funeral homes in the area who extend services to persons passing away from AIDS. She had held a seminar at a competitor's business that I was unable to attend as it coincided with my children's open house at school. When I tried to explain my reasoning for declining her invitation to be an the list, she launched into a tirade and threatened that if I did not bend to her opinion she would ruin my and my families reputation by going to the media, have my state board revoke my license (thus removing my ability to support my children) and have me investigated by the Federal Government. Knowing that she was not well informed about the state law regarding my circumstances, I doubted how valid the rest of her argument was. She never offered to how me any of these laws. Shortly thereafter, a press conference was held and I was blasted along with a large local hospital and a large insurance company. After that, I found that it was basically me, the little fellow with the kids who, having the most to lose, was singled out for a vendetta of attacks by the physician and some of the media. I always held by the principle that unless there was a law, I should not be

threatened or bullied because I failed to be "politically correct" and instead put the welfare of my children first. After much press, I found, in a news story the name of a spokesperson from the United States Department of Justice. As everybody else was so busy going after me with such terms as "bigotry" and "ignorance", I searched for the very part of the law that could even be in direct opposition to my position. As I told my children, if here is a law, one must obey that law whether you do or do not agree with it. I did, through the ADA folks, find that portion of the law which covered the argument against my concerns for my children. Yes, as the law is written, though not specifying embalmers or funeral homes specifically, I must accept the risk of handling persons passing away from the HIV virus as those people are covered under that law as having a disability and that the protection of the law extends to their families. I was told by some, the morning that I found this out that it would be best to "wait" until I needed to make it public. Well, that didn't set well with me as I figured since nobody cared enough to find the answer to all of the arguing and fighting but me, I should make public what I found out and my 01-02969​ -2-

what it meant for me. To wait would only hurt everyone involved. So I did notify the media as to the law and the fact that, I had always maintained, given the law, I must abide by that law. We are a society of laws and must obey them, but we do not need to agree with all of them. That is why, laying the circumstances that I am now in, I come to you for counsel and help. I do not have powerful, if any, political connections. I am not a large company with dozens of attorneys. I am Mr. President, just one single voice who is trying to speak up for the rights of his children. My children have a right to have me around to love and guide and raise them. No law, I believe should force any man or woman to take any risk, albeit one which is not yet fully understood as the large gulf between statistics that I have been given reflects, that would imperil their right to be around for their children. To me a blanket-type law has the ability to be changed or modified for special circumstances. I believe that this applies to the ADA. What can I, as a single voice who so deeply loves his Children, do to get changes made? What can you do to help insure the future of a ten-year-old girl who's sole ambition in life is to serve her country as a fighter pilot and an astronaut and of her eight-year-old brother who sees law enforcement as a possible goal? Mr. President, I ask you to consider this matter from both your position as head of the Nation and also as parent yourself. This matter is, I admit, small when put against the situation in the world today, but my children and the world to me. Respectfully,

XX (b)(6) cc: Congressman Howard McKeon (U.S. Congress)