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Group files lawsuit seeking benefits for N.Y. gay couple

Group files lawsuit seeking benefits for N.Y. gay couple

An organization that advocates for gay rights filed a lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of a gay couple from Long Island, N.Y., who married last year in Canada but were denied spousal health benefits from the Uniondale Union Free School District, an attorney said. "New York law is clear that when couples get validly married somewhere else, their marriages are recognized in New York," said Alphonso David, an attorney at Lambda Legal, which filed the suit in state supreme court in Mineola. "It doesn't matter that same-sex couples can't get married in New York right now--if they were married legally somewhere else, the law says they're legally married here." According to the lawsuit, Duke Funderburke, 72, worked as a teacher in Uniondale for more than 20 years before retiring in 1986. He married his partner of 42 years, Brad Davis, 67, in October 2004 in a ceremony in Ontario. But when Funderburke requested that his retirement health benefits be extended to Davis, the school district refused. A spokeswoman for Uniondale Superintendent of Schools William K. Lloyd said he declined to comment. David said Lambda Legal served the school district with notice of claim papers a month ago, indicating that a lawsuit would be filed if the matter was not resolved within 30 days, but said the school district did not respond. The lawsuit claims the district violated its contractual obligations, as well as common law and the state constitution, in refusing spousal coverage to Funderburke and Davis. "The law is clear in this area, but we keep hearing from couples like Duke and Brad who are being denied critical health coverage even though they're legally married," David said. (AP)

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