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Ohio lawmaker
says university's DP benefits violate marriage ban

Ohio lawmaker
says university's DP benefits violate marriage ban

A state legislator sued Miami University on Tuesday, seeking a ruling that the school's domestic-partner benefits policy violates Ohio's constitutional ban on civil unions. The action by Republican representative Tom Brinkman Jr. of Cincinnati was in his role as a taxpayer and father of two Miami University students, said his attorney, David Langdon. Langdon wrote language for the state Marriage Amendment passed by voters in 2004, which says "only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions."

Langdon said he believes this is the first suit against a university's domestic-partnership policy since the amendment took effect. When it was passed, attorneys differed on what the amendment meant for benefits extended by state universities to same-sex partners of employees. Langdon said Miami limits the benefits to same-sex couples, because opposite-sex couples have marriage as a legal option, "clearly going out of their way" to violate the policy.

The Butler County common pleas court suit says Miami is trying to provide "a legal status which approximates marriage to those in a relationship whose composition disallows it to qualify for status as a marriage." It says Brinkman "desires that his tax dollars and tuition payments be utilized lawfully and not applied by the university to finance the constitutional violation." Brinkman, also represented in the suit by the Arizona-based Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund, seeks a declaratory judgment and injunction against the university's domestic-partnership policy, plus legal fees.

Miami spokesman Richard Little said Tuesday evening that the university hadn't seen the lawsuit yet and that it came as a surprise. He said Brinkman has been a supporter of the university. "It's not against the university; it's against a policy that wastes taxpayers' money," Brinkman said. "I just want them to cease the policy that goes against an amendment that was overwhelmingly approved by voters." The university estimates about 30 people use some part of the university benefits package through the policy, which took effect in June 2004, Little said. "It's not a significant financial issue," he said. (AP)

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