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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