Selby and Ballard v. Baltimore County
Lambda Legal filed administrative grievances on behalf of Baltimore County police officers Margaret Selby and Juanika Ballard, who had been turned down for benefits for their same-sex spouses.
After marrying her partner of over 18 years in August 2009 in Massachusetts where same-sex couples may legally wed, Officer Margaret Selby filed a request with the Baltimore County Police Department to add her spouse, Ms. Colette Hayward, to her health care coverage, and to confirm that Ms. Hayward is eligible to receive other spousal protections. She was denied. Similarly, Officer Juanika Ballard and her spouse, Monica Williams, have been together for over six years and in June 2009 were married in Connecticut. When Officer Ballard requested spousal benefits, she also was denied. Representatives of Baltimore County told both women the benefits were denied because their spouses were of the same sex.
Officer Selby is one of the most commended officers in the Department. For the third year in a row, Officer Selby has been named her precinct’s Officer of the Year, for such heroism as intervening to disarm a man who was ready to shoot a social worker. Officer Ballard has been an employee of the Police Department for ten years and has been nominated for Officer of the Month. In 2009, Officer Ballard was badly hurt in the line of duty when a drunk driver struck her patrol car, pinning her inside with severe injuries. She had to be cut from her car and airlifted with a broken back to the hospital. In the months it took to nurse Officer Ballard back to health, Ms. Williams was by her side, so Officer Ballard could resume her job protecting the people of Baltimore County. Like the spouses of other police officers, both Ms. Hayward and Ms. Williams live with constant fear that their spouses could be hurt in the line of duty.
In the administrative grievance, Lambda Legal argued that denying spousal benefits to these dedicated police officers is contrary to Maryland law and discriminatory. Maryland Attorney General Gansler, in his opinion dated February 23, 2010, summarized Maryland’s longstanding law recognizing validly entered out-of-state marriages, including those of same-sex couples. Baltimore County impermissibly denied spousal benefits to Officer Selby and Officer Ballard by refusing to respect the couples’ Massachusetts and Connecticut marriages, simply because their spouses are of the same sex.
- September 2010 Lambda Legal files an administrative grievance on Officer Selby and Officer Ballard’s behalf to Baltimore County.
- February 2011 Officer Selby and Officer Ballard testify before the Maryland House Judiciary Committee for marriage rights.
- November 2011 Officer Ballard and Officer Selby, supported by their union the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge #4, win a binding arbitration decision holding that the County must grant them spousal benefits.
- December 2011 Baltimore County grants spousal benefits to all county employees who are married to a same-sex spouse.
Margaret Selby and Juanika Ballard
Peter M. Brody of Ropes & Gray LLP