New Orleans sued over DP benefits

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com July 01 2003 11:00 PM ET

Six residents have sued the city of New Orleans over its law giving health care benefits to city workers' gay partners, arguing that the ordinance violates provisions in state law that uphold traditional marriage. The city council enacted the law in 1999, giving benefits to city workers' domestic partners, who are defined as couples who live together and "share one another's lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring." Workers' partners, gay or straight, can get benefits by filling out a form and paying a $35 fee.

The plaintiffs allege that as taxpayers they are harmed by the law because it conflicts with state law. Their lawyer said the plaintiffs did not sue out of opposition to homosexuality. "These are people who believe in the sanctity of marriage," said Mike Johnson, of Shreveport, who filed the suit. "The state has spoken clearly that municipalities shouldn't have the right to enter into this arena--the redefining of the family." Johnson is affiliated with the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian law firm in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Tanzie Jones, a spokeswoman for Mayor Ray Nagin, said the mayor's office would not comment on the lawsuit, which was filed Thursday in civil district court in Orleans Parish.