Marilyn Golden, effective voice for the disabled, dies at 67

Marilyn Golden was a student on a summer trip to Switzerland when she fell from a tree after a rotting branch broke. His back was broke...


Marilyn Golden was a student on a summer trip to Switzerland when she fell from a tree after a rotting branch broke. His back was broken. She spent two years in rehabilitation at Houston Medical Center and uses from a wheelchair.

“I became radicalized, in a general sense, after being injured,” she said.

Ms. Golden would devote the rest of her life to advocating for the civil rights of people with disabilities, while dismissing as “ludicrous” the idea that people with disabilities like her wanted or deserved pity.

As a political analyst for the Fund for education and defense of the rights of people with disabilities, a leading national organization in the field, Ms. Golden played an important role in drafting, adopting and implementing the benchmark Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

“She was a kingpin, an absolutely essential person in passing the law,” said Chai Feldblum, who helped draft the ADA when she was with the American Civil Liberties Union and who then served on the Federal Commission for Equal Employment Opportunities.

“Marilyn was the hub of the community organization and the # 1 person who used her organization to get the bylaws implemented,” Ms. Feldblum said over the phone.

Ms. Golden died at age 67 on September 21 at her home in Berkeley, California. The cause was melanoma, said his companion, Rabbi David J. Cooper.

Ms. Golden campaigned for people with disabilities on several fronts. She pleaded for improving their access to public transport, especially buses and trains; adapt building codes for new construction and renovations to accommodate wheelchairs and other mobility devices; encourage autonomy as a substitute for long-term institutional care; expand financial assistance and other benefits; and demand and encourage public and private entities to expand access to communications and information technology.

These improvements would manifest themselves in everything from lowering the height of ATMs that can talk to clients to requiring the use of sign language interpreters for deaf people who sit on juries.

“We need to persuade pro-business legislatures that the civil rights of people who are often isolated and excluded from society are important enough to make them a requirement,” Golden said in the defense fund’s statement. website.

She has also actively opposed efforts in several states to legalize assisted suicide. She argued that such practices were fueled by fear of disability – “the public image of disability is like a fate worse than death,” she said – and prejudices against it, citing ” economic pressures from the health care system to relieve itself of its dearest patients.

“We are not opposed to aggressive palliative care – that is, pain and comfort care – or the right to refuse or withdraw medical treatment,” she added. “We are also not opposed to the appropriate and narrow application of a treatment called palliative sedation, when death is truly imminent. We only oppose more aggressive means of hastening death, ”such as legalizing lethal injections or prescribing barbiturates.

Ms. Golden served on the Federal Architectural and Transportation Barrier Compliance Council from 1996 to 2005. She was the Coordinator of Disabled International Support Effort, a non-profit organization focused on developing countries. In 2015, she was honored by the Obama White House as the Transportation “Champion for Change”.

Credit…through the Disability Education and Rights Fund

Marilyn Golden was born on March 22, 1954 in San Antonio, Texas, to Aaron and Clarice (Lerner) Golden. His father was a restaurateur and owner of a bureau de change; her mother was a housewife.

Ms. Golden spent her first year at university in Israel and intended to return there after graduating from Brandeis University in 1977 with a degree in social protection. Then she had her accident.

For eight years, she was the director of Access California, a disability rights group sponsored by the city of Oakland. She joined the Disability Education and Advocacy Fund in 1988 and became a Senior Policy Analyst.

“I realized this was a place where I could play a role,” she said.

Ms. Golden led the fund’s ADA training program from 1992 to 1994 and was the lead author of the group’s guide to implementing the law.

Among the victories of the movement was the decision by Greyhound Lines in 1998 to make the 4,000 stops of its national bus system accessible to wheelchair users.

“Bus travel is the only trip available for poor Americans” Ms. Golden testified in Congress before the adoption of the ADA, “and Americans with disabilities are three times more likely to fall below the federal poverty line than Americans without disabilities.”

In addition to Rabbi Cooper, she is survived by two stepchildren, Talia Cooper and Lev Hirschhorn.

“People are constantly surprised when people with disabilities do anything, whether it’s opening a door or going white-water rafting,” Ms. Golden told the Oakland Tribune in 1981. “ These lowered expectations are so humiliating. For me, this is normal, not wonderful. My life is equal to theirs.

“What diminishes the scope of our lives are the social limitations, the attitudes of others,” she added. “These problems are with the company. If you can’t walk, then you can’t walk. But there is a lot you can do.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Marilyn Golden, effective voice for the disabled, dies at 67
Marilyn Golden, effective voice for the disabled, dies at 67
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