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Ohio Lawmaker Heckled Over Suit Challenging Gay Partner Benefits


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Ohio Lawmaker Heckled Over Suit Challenging Gay Partner Benefits

by The Associated Press

Posted: January 31, 2006 - 2:30 pm ET

(Oxford, Ohio) - A state legislator who filed a lawsuit challenging Miami University's same-sex benefits policy was applauded, but mostly heckled, at a forum to discuss the court case.

Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr., R-Cincinnati, sued the university in November, asking Butler County Common Pleas Court for a ruling that the school's domestic partners benefits policy violates Ohio's constitutional ban on gay marriage passed by voters in 2004.

The forum, sponsored by Miami's College Republicans, drew about 400 people and was preceded by a rally of 150 students and faculty who support the school's benefits policy.

Assistant professor Lisa Poirer said she'd have to quit her job and find another one that provides health insurance benefits to her partner if Brinkman wins his lawsuit.

Brinkman told the forum's audience that his lawsuit is about preventing Miami from creating something that looks like gay marriage, which is illegal. He noted that Miami doesn't offer the same benefits to unmarried, opposite-sex partners.

"You've either got to give it to everybody or don't give it to any of them," Brinkman said. "All we're asking is that Miami University follow the law."

As a father of two Miami students and a taxpayer, Brinkman has said he doesn't want his tuition and tax money going to support the policy.

Brinkman is represented in the lawsuit by Cincinnati attorney David Langdon, who wrote the gay marriage amendment language. He's also being represented by the Arizona-based Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund.

In December, the university asked that the suit be dismissed, calling Brinkman's interpretation of the state Constitution "erroneous."

Miami began offering same-sex benefits in July 2004, four months before voters approved the amendment. The policy gave same-sex domestic partners of faculty and staff access to health and dental insurance, tuition remission and ticket discounts.

About 30 people took advantage of the benefits, a university spokesman said, at a cost of about $100,000. Overall, the school pays $50 million in annual benefits for faculty and staff.

©365Gay.com 2006

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