Monday, November 28, 2011

Baltimore County Denies Benefits to Police Officers' Same-Sex Spouses // ACLU & Baltimore Sun Cry Foul

The Baltimore Sun recently published an editorial calling on Baltimore County to provide benefits to police officers' same-sex spouses. They included this history of the controversy for readers:
County residents may recall that it was nearly two years ago that Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler issued a letter stating that Maryland should recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Yet, six months after the opinion was made public, the two officers had to file grievances through the police union because the county (which had at first deducted spousal premiums from their paychecks) decided to deny coverage altogether.

Perhaps the Gansler letter never made it to Towson because the county's lawyers decided to interpret Maryland law differently, arguing that the state's definition of marriage is "between a man and a woman" only. That's true, but as the attorney general pointed out, that provision does not address out-of-state marriages any more than other restrictions the state puts on wedlock (the age of the couple, for instance) affect the recognition of out-of-state unions.

But even if the legal point is arguable, why do it? 
The Sun's editorial board called on B'more County to do the right thing and provide the benefits:
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz shouldn't require more than a nanosecond to dismiss any notion of appealing an independent arbitrator's ruling that two Baltimore County police officers should not be denied health benefits for their same-sex spouses.
The ACLU of Maryland piggy-backed on the Baltimore Sun editorial with a call-to-action on their Facebook page:

Contact Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz at

The ACLU is urging folks to contact Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and ask him to do the right thing by granting benefits to the spouses of same-sex government employees. Even while Maryland now has a precedent for recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages, it seems clear that marriage equality in Maryland itself is inevitable. That fact will continue to bring a sharper focus to the other effects of the shift to equality, such as these types of changes in how we handle employee benefits. Notably, MoCo had previously opted to provide benefits to employees' same-sex spouses, but while working there, I had the opportunity to help advance Councilmember Nancy Navarro's legislation to expand same-sex benefits to county government contractors.

The conversation continues to grow as residents prepare for equality.... Maryland Reporter today also flagged news coverage of a jewelry store airing a new television ad with diverse couples, including a lesbian couple. Watch the ad below:

No comments:

Post a Comment