Montana's Attorney General Steve Bullock has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit that aims to establish the same legal rights and protections for Montana same-sex couples as are in existence for married heterosexual couples. Filed by the ACLU in July, the lawsuit was started by seven couples from across the state. The bottom line: we're fed up with not having equal protection under the law.
Montana law doesn't do much for the coupled gays. Spousal benefits are limited to married couples and the law very clearly states that marriage is between a man and a woman. And Bullock claims that the courts have no authority to change that definition.
The suit, Donaldson and Guggenheim v. State of Montana, asks for mechanisms like the domestic partnership laws adopted in other states to provide protections for same-sex couples in areas where there is a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage (as there is in Montana). As the law exists, there are many protections missing for same-sex couples.
Like what, you ask? Like the guarantee of being able to visit one's partner in the hospital and to make decision in the event emergency care is needed. And the right to be awarded a same-sex spouse's inheritance in the event they die without a valid will. Both pretty morbid, but both sad realities for many gay couples in Montana.
"Montanan's believe in fairness and that's what this case is about," says ACLU Spokesperson Amy Cannata. "This case is about what is fair and what is fair is for people who are committed to one another in a loving relationship have the ability to care for one another and protect one another in good times and in bad."
Despite the setback, the ACLU plans to forge ahead with the case. They intend to respond to Bullock's argument for withdrawal in state court by the end of the month. But, until then, why not do your part. Sign the petition to tell Montana's Attorney General that this case deserves to be heard.