Friday, December 31, 2004

Montana Supreme Court Justice James C. Nelson: Bravo 

In a concurring opinion to the Montana Supreme Court majority decision that Montana's state-owned universities must offer insurance to domestic partners of all university employees, not just the domestic partners of heterosexual employees, Justice James C. Nelson had this to say about Montana's recently approved constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage:
"Sadly," Justice Nelson wrote, "many politicians and 'we the people' rarely pass up an opportunity to bash and condemn gays and lesbians despite the fact that these citizens are our neighbors and that they work, pay taxes, vote, hold public office, own businesses, provide professional services, worship, raise their families and serve their communities in the same manner as heterosexuals."

The University system offered employees the opportunity to sign an affadavit that their living arrangement was a committed relationship known as common-law marriage and that the two parties had "assumed all the responsibilities and duties which the law attached to such a relationship." The Montana Supreme Court determined that barring this option to gay employees violated Montana's own equal protection clause. Since the decision was not based on the state constitution, not the US Constitution, any attempt at appeal to the US Supreme Court would face likely denial.

The opinions and various party and amicus briefs can be found here, at the website of the State Law Library of Montana. The case is Snetsinger v. Montana University System (03-238).

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:47 AM