Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Same-Sex Couples

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Same-Sex Couples

Article excerpt

Access to legally recognized marriage isn't the only civil rights issue challenging homosexual couples, although it is currently one of the most prominent. Over the past few years, courts throughout the country have been hearing and deciding a collection of disputes that center on what the law ought to make of same-sex domestic partners. As it stands, no clear approach has emerged. These courts, like much of the country, seem divided over how to respond to homosexuality.

Three recent cases from the lower courts of Alaska, Minnesota, and Florida are illustrative.

Alaska. In Tumeo v. University of Alaska (11 January 1995), an Alaska superior court ruled it illegal for the University of Alaska to deny same-sex partners health insurance coverage while at the same time extending the benefit to "opposite-sex wives and husbands." The university insurance plan was challenged under a state law prohibiting discrimination in employment or working conditions on the basis of marital status. The court cautioned that its ruling did not actually require the university to cover same-sex domestic partners. It suggested that the plan would pass muster if, for example, it denied coverage to all spouses, or extended coverage to all persons financially dependent on the university employee.

Minnesota. In Heeney v. Erhard (13 September 1995, Minnesota District Court), a lower court judge found that the Minnesota Human Rights Act did not require physicians to provide artificial insemination to a lesbian couple. Karen Heeney and her partner, Julia Beatty, approached a reproductive health clinic seeking artificial insemination for Heeney. A clinic physician spoke with them, but decided not to take Heeney as a patient. …

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