Baltimore County Grants Spousal Benefits to Employees with Same-Sex Spouses After Lambda Legal Arbitration Victory
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(Baltimore, MD December 15, 2011) — Today, Baltimore County announced that, beginning January, it will extend spousal benefits to all county employees who are married to a same-sex spouse. This comes on the heels of an arbitrator’s ruling in favor of Lambda Legal clients Margaret Selby and Juanika Ballard, Baltimore County police officers who had been denied benefits for their same-sex spouses.
Statement from Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation at Lambda Legal:
"Sometimes, getting a fair deal for a couple of people opens the door to justice for many more. We applaud Baltimore County for this important step forward in providing critical benefits for the families of its employees.
"County employees such as police officers, fire fighters and many others provide great service to the community. They have families to take care of whether they are married to spouses of the same or different sex."
Statements from Baltimore County police officers Margaret Selby and Juanika Ballard:
Officer Selby said, "It was not the police department but Baltimore County that kept us from receiving spousal benefits. I am glad that Baltimore County has changed the policy because it will keep other county employees from having to go through what we went through to protect our family."
Officer Ballard said, "Whether you are a police officer or a firefighter, we all need benefits to protect our families regardless of who we marry."
This policy change comes after Lambda Legal successfully advocated on behalf of Officer Selby and Officer Ballard in a grievance process in which an arbitrator ruled that they are entitled to spousal benefits because they were legally married in other states. The officers were supported by their union, the Fraternal Order of Police.
Maryland Attorney General Gansler, in his opinion dated February 23, 2010, confirmed that, under longstanding Maryland law, out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples receive legal respect and should be treated like any other marriage.
Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation, is handling this matter for Lambda Legal. She is joined by co-counsel Peter M. Brody and Michael Laufert of Ropes & Gray LLP. The Fraternal Order of Police is represented by Matthew Clash-Drexler of Bredhoff & Kaiser, PLLC.