JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., Oct. 30 (UPI) — The same-sex partner of a Missouri highway patrolman who died on duty in 2009 is not eligible for survivor’s benefits, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled.
In a 5-2 decision Tuesday, the court said Kelly Glossip, the 15-year partner of Missouri Highway Patrol Cpl. Dennis Engelhard, is not eligible for pension benefits that would normally go to a spouse because the couple were not married.
The court ruled the fact the couple could not have been married under state law is not relevant, because Glossip’s lawsuit did not specifically challenge the state’s same-sex marriage ban.
The 20-page court opinion placed emphasis on separating the issue of sexual orientation from the couple’s marital status, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said.
“(The) statute does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Instead, it draws a distinction on the basis of marital status. Because Glossip was not married to Engelhard at the time of his death, he is not eligible for survivor benefits.”
Engelhard, 49, was struck by a car and killed while helping a motorist. Glossip was denied survivor benefits, and sued on the grounds of denial of equal protection.
After losing the case in circuit court, Glossip appealed to the state Supreme Court.