Washington County, MD to Grant Health Benefits to Same-Sex Spouses of Employees Married Out of State

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"We are pleased that Washington County is adhering to Maryland law requiring respect for these marriages and is providing critical family benefits to all its employees. We hope every Maryland county will now follow suit."

Date

Date: 
06/13/2012
Susan Sommer

"We are pleased that Washington County is adhering to Maryland law requiring respect for these marriages and is providing critical family benefits to all its employees. We hope every Maryland county will now follow suit."

(Baltimore, MD June 13, 2012) - Today, Lambda Legal announced that, beginning in July, Washington County will extend spousal benefits to all eligible county employees married to a same-sex spouse. The County's decision comes on the heels of a complaint filed by Lambda Legal on behalf of William Taylor, a county librarian who had been denied benefits for his husband, who he had married in Washington, DC, and by a Maryland Court of Appeals ruling that such marriages are entitled to legal respect.

Washington County is offering an additional open enrollment period from June 11 - June 22, 2012, to allow county employees to apply for spousal benefits.

"Last month, in Port v. Cowan, a case in which Lambda Legal participated, the Court of Appeals unequivocally held that marriages of same-sex couples entered out of state are recognized under Maryland law. We are pleased that Washington County is adhering to Maryland law requiring respect for these marriages and is providing critical family benefits to all its employees. We hope every Maryland county will now follow suit," said Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation at Lambda Legal. "County employees, like librarians, fire fighters and many others, provide important services to the community. They have families to take care of whether they are married to spouses of the same or different sex, and they should receive the same protections as their co-workers."

"I'm very pleased that the County will now be treating its gay and lesbian employees, like me, more fairly. I love working at the library, but it has always bothered me that my straight colleagues were being compensated a lot more than I was for the same work. Now that's changed, and it means a lot to me," said Lambda Legal client William Taylor.

After marrying his partner of over 17 years in May 2010, in Washington, D.C. where same-sex couples may legally wed, Taylor requested that the Washington County Department of Human Resources add his spouse to his health care coverage. County representatives told him the benefits were being denied because his spouse is of the same sex.

In March, Lambda Legal filed a complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights on behalf of Mr. Taylor asserting that the County's denial of benefits to his spouse is discriminatory and contrary to established Maryland law recognizing out-of-state marriages. Lambda Legal had earlier won spousal benefits for government employees in Baltimore County and Anne Arundel.

For background on Port v. Cowan

For background on Selby and Ballard v. Baltimore County

For background on Pipkin v. Anne Arundel County Schools

Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation, is handling this matter for Lambda Legal. She is joined by co-counsel Michael Laufert and Rachael Lader of Ropes & Gray LLP.

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Contact Info

Contact: Jonathan Adams T: 212-809-8585 ext. 267; C: 646-752-3251; E: jadams@lambdalegal.org

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy.