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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ind. Courts - "First responders challenge Indiana same-sex marriage law "

This is the case the ILB wrote about briefly on Friday, March 14th, under the heading "A fourth challenge to Indiana's marriage law now has been filed." Here is the complaint in the case, Officer Pamela Lee v. Mike Pence.

A story by WISHTV on Saturday, March 15th, with video, was headed "First responders challenge Indiana same-sex marriage law ." A few quotes:

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Same sex marriage is taking center-stage again in Central Indiana. This time it is over benefits.

Saturday, first responders in Indianapolis announced they were suing the state and the governor for the right to name their partners as beneficiaries.

The lawsuit is an 18-page explanation of why the spouses of three current IMPD officers and one retired Indianapolis firefighter should get pension and death benefits.

24-Hour News 8 was there Saturday as the eight women announced they were suing Indiana Governor Mike Pence and officials with the “Indiana Public Retirement System,” which oversees the police officers’ and firefighters’ pension fund.

It all started when IFD Batallion Chief Ruth Morrison retired at the end of last year. She says she tried to name her spouse as her pension beneficiary four months ago and was denied by the state. She contacted attorneys and found three more first responders, who were legally married in other states, but are in the same boat in Indiana.

“We don’t receive the same benefits that any other firefighters or police officers do. Our spouses would be out in the cold. Also, if there’s a line of duty death — the ultimate sacrifice — their spouses wouldn’t be taken care of with the funds,” Ruth Morrison told 24-Hour News 8.

The funds she mentioned are $150,000 from the state that would be given to the family left behind after a first responder dies.

Since Indiana doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, their monthly pension money and death benefits would go back to the state, not to the spouse.

ILB: Interestingly, Ruth Morrison was the name plaintiff in the 2005 lawsuit, Ruth Morrison, et al. v. Sadler, where the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld Indiana's statutory prohibition against same-sex marriage.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 18, 2014 10:42 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts