ACLU Files Suit To Overturn Montana’s Ban On Benefits For Same-Sex Couples

MontanaFollowing similar suits in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana has filed an amended lawsuit against the state on behalf of seven gay couples in an attempt to win for them the same benefits that married straight couples receive. The Missoulian reports:

In the amended lawsuit, attorney James Goetz identifies numerous statues, including laws he says prevent gay couples from receiving financial protections given to police officers and spouses and from designating their partners as beneficiaries for worker's compensation.  

Other laws Goetz cites exclude gay couples from financial protections for surviving spouses, authority over end-of-life decisions, financial protections due to illness or disability and protections from the dissolution of their relationships. 

In December 2012, the Montana Supreme Court denied the ACLU's original appeal challenging every statue excluding committed same-sex couples form protections granted to straight couples. The Justices did say, however, that the ACLU could move forward with statute-specific efforts to secure equal treatment for same-sex couples in the state. 


  1. Bingo says

    “similar”? — it’s time to be more careful and distinbguish suits in federal court from those in state court. Huge difference going forward.

  2. Bingo says

    This is a re-launch of a lawsuit that got smacked down last year. It’s not part of the new suits that the ACLU has announced.

    It’s also evidence that some ACLU local groups aren’t first rate. They’ve spent tons of time and money on this and they’re back on square one.

  3. Kevin says

    I will say Jon Tester’s stance on gay marriage over the years in Montana has been a let down.
    He could defend his son when his opponent in 2006 tried to make an issue of his son being gay but not for his son having the right to marry in his home state?

  4. says

    As an employee of the ACLU of Montana, I take objection to BINGO’s uninformed comments.

    Our lawsuit was not “smacked down.” In fact, it was not turned down on the merits at all, but rather on a tactical point that not all the Montana Supreme Court justices agreed on. Some would have ruled in our favor outright.

    Simply put, the majority said that we couldn’t go after the entire statutory scheme denying same-sex couples benefits, but that we had to go after individual statutes. That’s what we are doing now. When we win on these, it will, in effect, overturn the statutory scheme because our win will set the precedent for all of the “marriage” statutes.

    As a state with a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage (the situation faced by the majority of states in the country), we feel very strongly that we need to do what we can to give real couples real protections as soon as possible. This is the best way to do that.

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