Court upholds gay partner benefit rights

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A US court has rejected a case which would have taken away domestic partner benefits for employees of Miami University in Ohio.

In response to papers filed by gay law group, Lambda Legal, the Butler County Court of Common Pleas dismissed a lawsuit brought by a legislator seeking to take away the domestic partner benefits of employees of Miami University.

“The court has affirmed that Thomas Brinkman’s daily life is unaffected when the domestic partners of lesbian and gay university employees have health insurance and he therefore has no standing to bring a lawsuit,” said James Madigan, staff attorney in Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Office in Chicago.

“Lesbian and gay employees and their families’ health were at stake and today the court has granted them freedom from being a pawn in politically motivated lawsuits.”

In July, Lambda Legal filed briefs arguing that Brinkman had no standing to sue, because the University pays for its domestic partner benefits with privately donated funds, not with tax dollars or tuition.

He also had not shown that he suffered any direct impact that would be corrected if Miami University took away the health and dental insurance it currently offers to the domestic partners of university employees.

The judge said: “Brinkman has not shown the kind of individual, concrete damages required to have taxpayer standing, nor can those damages be presumed.”

In December 2005, Lambda Legal intervened on behalf of Professors Jean Lynch and Yvonne Keller, after the domestic partner benefits offered by their employer, Miami University, came under attack by the antigay Alliance Defence Fund (ADF) along with Ohio legislator Thomas Brinkman.

The lawsuit against the university claimed that its domestic partner benefits violate Ohio’s antigay constitutional amendment, which limits marriage to a man and a woman.

Lambda Legal argued that Ohio’s constitutional amendment does not apply to the university because it concerns only marriage and does not address the legality of domestic partnership benefits.