Ohio Lawmaker Has No Standing in Same-Sex Benefits Suit

August 30, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - An Ohio legislator cannot sue Miami University over its policy to offer health benefits to same-sex couples, the state's 12th District Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday.

According to the opinion, Ohio state Representative Tom Brinkman Jr. asked the court for a declaration that Miami University’s policy of providing health insurance to same-sex domestic partners violates Ohio’s constitutional ban on civil unions. He also sought an injunction to prevent the university from providing such benefits under its domestic partner policy.

In denying Brinkman’s request, the 12 th District Court upheld a lower court’s dismissal of his lawsuit last year.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex unions went into effect in November 2004. In July 2004, the Miami University Board of Trustees adopted a policy to extend health insurance availability to the same-sex domestic partners of benefit-eligible employees.

Brinkman said he has the right to sue because he is a taxpayer and the father of two Miami University students.

He argued that he has common-law taxpayer standing because the university uses a portion of his tax dollars to pay for the benefits at issue. In addition, Brinkman asserted that he has “public right” standing because the subject of his lawsuit is a matter of great public interest.

However, the court found that the university uses private donations to fund its domestic partner benefits. According to the opinion, “…   if  Miami University pays its domestic-partner insurance premiums with purely private donations, Brinkman’s status as a taxpayer logically cannot give him standing to challenge the expenditure.”

The court also said it was Brinkman’s choice to send his children to Miami University.

The full opinion in Thomas E. Brinkman, Jr., v. Miami University, No. CA2006-12-313, 8/27/2007 is here .

Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher asked lawmakers in July to consider banning domestic partner insurance at state-run colleges and public agencies, after the University of Louisville began offering the benefits (See KY’s Fletcher Calls Special Legislative Session for Domestic Partner Benefits Ban).