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Missouri Supreme Court Denies Benefits To Same-Sex Partner Of Killed State Trooper

Categories: LGBT

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ACLU
Glossip and Engelhard lived together and raised Glossip's son from a previous relationship.
See update below: A Missouri Supreme Court decision yesterday ended Kelly Glossip's battle to receive survivor benefits after his partner, Missouri Highway Patrol trooper Dennis Engelhard, died in the line of duty.

Despite a fifteen-year relationship, the court rejected Glossip's appeal because he and Engelhard weren't married.

On Christmas morning in 2009, Englehard was assisting a stranded motorist when he was struck and killed by an SUV that had lost control in the ice and snow.

One year later, with help from the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, Glossip sued the Missouri Department of Transportation and the Highway Patrol Employees Retirement System.

For the past three years Glossip and the ACLU argued that the state shouldn't be allowed to penalize same-sex couples for not being married when it was the state that had made it illegal for same-sex couples to get married.

See also: Same-Sex Couples In Missouri National Guard Now Receive Full Military Benefits

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ACLU

In rejecting Glossip's appeal, the court ruled 5-2 that the the state's definition of marriage was irrelevant to the case. The only question the court looked at was whether the state can award or deny benefits based on marital status.

From the court's decision:

The only decision the Court makes here has nothing to do with the rights of same-sex partners. Instead, the Court merely upholds the General Assembly's right to award and deny survivor benefits based on whether the claimant was married to the patrolman at the time of death.

See also: Missouri Rep. Kevin Elmer Calls Nixa Schools 'Failure' for Gay-Straight Alliance T-Shirt

As Daily RFT reported back in Feburary, the ACLU had gone into this appeal hoping to link the two issues. As legal director Tony Rothbart said at the time, "If you're going to exclude a whole class of people from marrying, you can't then make benefits contingent on marriage."

That line of reasoning was echoed in Judge Richard Teitelman's withering dissent, where he wrote that the court's decision allows the state to make survivor benefits "legally impossible to obtain only for gays and lesbians."

In Teitelman's words:

This holding overlooks the fact that [the survivor benefits statute] employs a definition of "spouse" that operates to the unique disadvantage of gay men and lesbians, even when, like Corporal Engelhard, they devote their lives to the defense of the same rule of law that relegates them to the status of second class citizens.

The court's full decision is lengthy but worth the read, especially for Teitelman's dissent. It's embedded on the next page.

Update 3:30 p.m.: Daily RFT reached out to Tony Rothert, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri and also one of Glossip's attorneys.

"It's a disappointing decision," he says, "But we knew and Kelly knew that discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation is deeply entrenched in Missouri."

As for the Glossip's case, the battle is lost. There are no more avenues for appeal, and Rothert describes the court's decision as "disastrous." However, he maintains this defeat is just "one step along the way to equality in Missouri."

Rothert guarantees: "There will be next steps soon."

Continue for the full text of the Missouri Supreme Court Decision.


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58 comments
Jimmie Thomptson
Jimmie Thomptson

welcome to living life like 50 years ago...this state is am embarrassment to the United States

smdrpepper
smdrpepper

This has been happening in Missouri for a long time.  An old friend and former boss had the same thing happen to him.  His partners family, who had nothing to do with him, came in and stole all the money they had amassed together.  He is in his 60s now and can no longer consider retirement because of this idiocy.  All because the state refused to acknowledge their relationship.

Sarah Stum
Sarah Stum

Nah, you haven't been in the deep south or better yet, Texas yet. lol

Sarah Stum
Sarah Stum

Truly sad. But, the law needs to be changed in MO to allow same sex marriage. You have to be married to receive benefits like this. Don't blame the judges, get to work on changing the law.

Sarah Stum
Sarah Stum

Voters in MO need to get out there and do something about it.

Sarah Stum
Sarah Stum

Steve wasn't saying he was against same sex marriage. MO just doesn't yet allow it. Therefore, the court ruled according to the law. Whether it is unjust or not. They have to follow the law.

Sarah Stum
Sarah Stum

You haven't been to Texas then. If you want to see backwards, come down here. - But, the law needs to be changed to allow same sex marriage in order for this man to receive the benefits. The court upheld the law as it is today.

Brooke Martin
Brooke Martin

What is ignorant is governing a group of people that do not subscribe to the same beliefs. And I do not see anything about beliefs in the definition of policy.

Barry Gilbert
Barry Gilbert

That's a little ignorant. Almost by definition, a "policy" simply expresses or reflects a "belief system".

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

and ruth...i know you're a crazy person...but i never said it was "right" or "wrong" what happened here. i simply said the law did not allow for a ruling in his favor.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

lmao...because ya...i sneak in late at night and change the laws.

Clyde Rhoads
Clyde Rhoads

And if it was an unmarried heterosexual couple, the surviving partner would also be denied survivor benefits as well. The same circumstance happens all the time to unmarried couples.

Anthony Merkel
Anthony Merkel

If you are not married ( living together does not constitute marriage ), whether it be man/man, man/woman and so on. You are NOT eligible for the benefits, period! Not sure why many of you here are not getting that fact!

Anthony Merkel
Anthony Merkel

How is this any different than a man and woman living together and one dies and the other is denied because they were not married? If you are not married, you are not entitled to the benefits.

Clyde Rhoads
Clyde Rhoads

That amendment was voted on by the people of MO in 2004. Although many people are expressing distaste for this specific amendment now, i doubt anyone then went to the polls to vote against it. Nor are they petitioning the Missouri General Assembly to propose another amendment to negate Article 1, Sec 33, which is what it will take to overturn.

terryflowers
terryflowers

So unjust ~ The law must be changed so that anyone of legal age should be allowed to marry anyone of their choice who is also of legal age and the relationship is consensual.

Casey McBroom
Casey McBroom

Very sad situation. The tide is turning in favor of their individual rights being recognized, but too late for this man. Shame on the religious for getting in the way of rights all these years...

Daniel Bramley
Daniel Bramley

Your god can't be proven or demonstrated. If you read the bible, which its obvious you have never done so, you would see that the government condones many things that your imaginary god commands you to do. Go kill a person who doesn't believe in your religion and see what happens. Your god commands that but the government don't let that shit fly do they kid? Go kill people who don't believe what you do and stab pregnant woman in their stomachs who don't believe and kill all men woman and children and kidnap the preteen girls for yourself just like your god commands you to do and see what happens. Your stupid fairy tale belief should never be used to keep people from being free asshole. This country was founded to get away from idiots like you and guess what you breed so much that you spread like the fucking disease you are.

Heather Woodside
Heather Woodside

that's terrible, especially considering there is a child involved.

Russ Squeaky
Russ Squeaky

What a travesty of the constitution. All men were created equal but we had a bit of a row to determine that woemen had a say too. Do we have to re-write the whole thing to get justice? Oh, and again...I am heterosexual and happily married.

Mike Schwab
Mike Schwab

A section of the state constitutional can be declared invalid if it conflicts with the federal constitution or federal laws. The DOMA ruling is very close, but doesn't require all states to recognize gay marriage.

Kelle Deyne
Kelle Deyne

Missouri is so far behind in sooo many ways- it's embarrassing to live here.

Kelle Deyne
Kelle Deyne

Steve- how dare you mock someone who lost their husband... What is a shame, is that you probably call yourself a libertarian- not to presume... But shame on you! Love and marriage equality for everyone does not affect you in ANY way- or anyone for that matter.

Kelle Deyne
Kelle Deyne

So sad to hear this. If he were military, his loving partner would have been covered. What a shame :-(

Ruth Susanne
Ruth Susanne

You Steve Mincer are a great example of why our states laws are filled with hate!

Ruth Susanne
Ruth Susanne

I said our state could show "love and compassion"....not just the Supreme Court....our voters could vote for equality...and our court could have made a ruling for equality....

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

"Missouri still says that gays aren't good enough for human dignity." is that really what missouri says? so...if i murder a gay person...i am not going to be arrested for murder? if i set a gay person's house on fire...i'm not going to be arrested for arson?

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

you must not understand what the supreme court does. it doesn't use "love and compassion". it uses the law. the law currently does not allow for a ruling in his favor. it's not "right or wrong". this is why laws are changed or passed as a society moves forward.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

it's not a "fail". the court was using the law that is on the books. don't like it? change the law.

Andy Wright
Andy Wright

My heart goes out to his partner. This is terrible!

Brooke Martin
Brooke Martin

I think it is wrong to apply a personal belief system to public policy.

Jesse Riley
Jesse Riley

I think it is wrong for the government to condone what God has condemned.

Ruth Susanne
Ruth Susanne

Sad day for Missouri....I wish this Show-Me state would show some love and compassion instead of hate a

jack_sprat
jack_sprat

@Casey McBroom Africa is full of tree worshippers who would hang them for what they do. there's nothing in the Bible that says that people should embrace this ONE particular Hebraic call to hate, while simultaneously rejecting all of the many OTHER calls to hate. This one seems to have a wide and enduring appeal, through time and across cultures. Any appeals that they make to religion are just rationalizations for indulging their animus.

jack_sprat
jack_sprat

@Brooke Martin Whatever do you imagine that YOU are doing here, Brooke? (What you MEANT to say was that you think that it's wrong for OTHER PEOPLE'S personal belief system to prevail over yours.)

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