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Judge dismisses gay man's effort to gain tax equality

Judge dismisses gay man's effort to gain tax equality

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a gay couple who claimed they deserved a tax refund because they were legally married and should be granted married taxpayer status. The lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service was the latest attempt by Jack Baker and L. Michael McConnell to have their 1971 marriage legally recognized. Baker, a Minneapolis attorney, filed the lawsuit in May on behalf of McConnell. McConnell sought to change his taxpayer status to married and claimed he deserved a refund of nearly $800. The lawsuit, dismissed Monday by U.S. district judge Joan Ericksen, also asked the federal court for an order "declaring plaintiff to be a full citizen who is lawfully married" in Minnesota. It's not the first time the couple has appeared in court. In 1971, Baker and McConnell sued Hennepin County when they were denied a marriage license. They lost that case--but while it was pending they got a marriage license in Mankato and were married before a Methodist minister in the Twin Cities. They later claimed the marriage was legal because it occurred before specific legal rulings were made against gay marriage. In 1976, McConnell and Baker filed a federal lawsuit to compel the Veterans Administration to increase Baker's educational benefits, claiming McConnell was a dependent spouse. In a ruling against Baker, the 8th U.S. circuit court of appeals said the fundamental issues of joint tax status were the same as those raised regarding veterans' benefits. On Monday, Ericksen ruled that the earlier decision in the veterans' benefits case barred McConnell and Baker from "relitigating claims against the IRS." Baker said Monday he had not read the entire ruling, but he vowed to appeal. Baker, a corporate attorney, was the first openly gay president of the student association at the University of Minnesota, where he also attended law school in the 1970s. After graduating, he successfully challenged an attempt by the State Board of Examiners to prevent him from taking the bar exam because of questions about his moral character. In 2002, he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Minnesota supreme court. (AP)

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