Once again, an Ohio court has declared that antigay legislator Thomas Brinkman has no legal standing to take away domestic partner health benefits from employees of Miami University. Simply being a taxpayer, the state Court of Appeals held unanimously, does not give Brinkman the right to take away fair and legitimate health benefits because he suffers no harm when those benefits are provided.
Lambda Legal argued that Brinkman had no standing to sue because the university pays for its domestic partner benefits with privately donated funds, not with tax dollars or tuition. Brinkman also did not show that he suffered any direct impact from the university’s domestic partner health coverage.
Lambda Legal intervened in this case in December 2005 on behalf of Professors Jean Lynch and Yvonne Keller and their partners after their benefits came under attack by Brinkman and the antigay Alliance Defense Fund (ADF). The lawsuit against the university claimed that its domestic partner benefits violate Ohio’s antigay constitutional amendment, which limits marriage to a man and a woman. We argued that the amendment does not apply to the university because it concerns only marriage and does not address the legality of domestic partnership benefits. Earlier this year, in a case called Ohio v. Carswell, the Ohio Supreme Court held that the state’s amendment is focused upon marriage. Now the Court of Appeals has held that giving benefits to same-sex couples causes no injury to antigay activists like Brinkman and ADF.
Two Ohio courts have now agreed with us, and families in the state are more secure as a result.
- November 2005: Brinkman, represented by ADF, files lawsuit against Miami University in the Butler County Court of Common Please to take away domestic partnership benefits two days before Thanksgiving.
- December 2005: Lambda Legal files a motion to intervene on behalf of two professors and their domestic partners.
- January 2006: Court grants Lambda Legal’s motion to intervene.
- July 2006 Lambda Legal files papers asking the Butler County Court of Common Pleas to dismiss the ADF lawsuit.
- November 2006: Victory! Lawsuit dismissed.
- December 2006: Brinkman and ADF file a notice of appeal.
- August 2007: Victory — again! The Ohio Court of Appeals unanimously affirms the lower court’s decision to dismiss Brinkman’s suit because he does not have legal standing.