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Gay Couples’ Lawsuit Rejected in Montana

Gay Couples’ Lawsuit Rejected in Montana


A judge in Montana has rejected a lawsuit seeking to give same-sex couples the same legal protections as married couples. He said the benefits were precluded in part by a voter-approved constitutional amendment against marriage equality.

The Associated Press reports on the lawsuit filed on behalf of the couples by the American Civil Liberties Union. The couples did not seek the right to marry, but they wanted the ability to make burial, health care, and other decisions, along with benefits including jointly filing taxes.

The attorney general argued that Montana law limited the benefits available to couples because of the 2004 marriage amendment approved by voters. District judge Jeffrey Sherlock acknowledged that in his decision.

"The judge said, despite sympathy for the plaintiffs, that it would be an inappropriate breach of separation of powers for him to order the Legislature to enact 'a domestic partnership or civil union arrangement' as sought by the gay couples," reported the AP. "He said forcing the lawmakers to draw up new laws goes much farther than asking him to declare one of their statutes unconstitutional."

The ACLU plans to appeal to the Montana supreme court.

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