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Miami University
staff can keep domestic-partner benefits

Miami University
staff can keep domestic-partner benefits

Gay and lesbian staff members at Oxford, Ohio-based Miami University can keep their domestic-partner benefits, following Monday's affirmation by the Ohio court of appeals of a lower court ruling.

Conservative lawmaker Thomas Brinkman, with legal counsel from the antigay Alliance Defense Fund, brought the case to the Ohio courts in November 2005. A year later, the suit was dismissed, but Brinkman and the Alliance Defense Fund filed a notice of appeal.

Lambda Legal acted on behalf of professors Jean Lynch and Yvonne Keller, whose families stood to lose their medical coverage if Brinkman won the case.

The court unanimously concluded that "Brinkman's status as an Ohio taxpayer does not give him standing to challenge the university's policy of providing health insurance benefits to same-sex domestic partners of its employees."

Brinkman's original argument was that the university's domestic-partner benefits violated the state's constitutional amendment limiting marriage to a heterosexual couple. Lambda Legal argued that the amendment does not apply to the university because it concerns only marriage and also because the domestic-partner benefits were provided through donated funds.

"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," James P. Madigan, a Lambda Legal staff attorney, said in a statement. "The court has affirmed that Mr. 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." (The Advocate)

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