Missouri Supreme Court Briefs Filed in Same-Sex Survivor Benefits Case

Affiliate: ACLU of Missouri
November 8, 2012 11:02 am

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ST. LOUIS — Kelly Glossip, who is challenging the discriminatory survivor benefits policy of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) and Highway Employees’ Retirement System, filed his brief with the Missouri Supreme on Monday. Glossip’s partner, Dennis Engelhard, was a Missouri state trooper killed in the line of duty while responding to an accident on Christmas Day 2009. In addition, elected officials; law school professors; and a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) law enforcement organization filed amici briefs on Glossip’s behalf.

The “friends of the court” are 15 current and former elected officials, such as U.S. Congressman Lacy Clay (D), St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay (D), and State Rep. Zachary Wyatt (R); professors from each of the state’s four law schools; and members of LEGAL International (Law Enforcement Gays and Lesbians International) and its affiliates. “It’s encouraging to have such a diverse group agree that it’s time to stop discriminating against lesbian and gay Missouri State Highway Patrol employees who’ve worked for and deserve the same protections for their life partners as heterosexual couples,” says Brenda L. Jones, executive director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri.

“Dennis and I loved each other and lived in a committed relationship for 15 years. We exchanged rings and would have married in Missouri if the state didn’t exclude us from marriage,” said Glossip. “I‘m just seeking the same financial protections the state provides to heterosexual couples who are allowed to marry. It is hard enough coping with the grief of losing Dennis. It is even more painful to have the state treat Dennis and me as though we were total strangers.”

Different-sex spouses of Missouri State Highway Patrol employees are entitled to an annuity of 50 percent of the employee’s average salary if the employee is killed on duty. “Kelly is not challenging the definition of marriage under Missouri law,” says Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU-EM. “He is challenging the discriminatory survivor benefits policy as a violation of his rights under the Missouri Constitution.”

Monday was the deadline for Kelly Glossip’s attorneys to file their briefs in the case, which is now before the Missouri Supreme Court. Oral arguments will likely be scheduled in the spring.

Glossip’s attorneys include Rothert and Grant R. Doty, of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri; Stephen Douglas Bonney, of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri; John Knight and Joshua Block, of the ACLU’s LGBT Project; Roger K. Heidenreich of SNR Denton US LLP; and Maurice Graham of Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C. For more information on this case, including a video, visit: www.aclu.org/glossip. You can find copies of Glossip’s brief and the three friend-of-the-court briefs on the ACLU-EM website.

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