The surviving partner of a Missouri state trooper killed on duty is suing for benefits from the highway patrol.
Glossip v. Missouri Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol Employees’ Retirement System made its way to the Missouri Supreme Court in late February. The American Civil Liberties Union represented Kelly Glossip in the fight for benefits as the surviving partner of a Missouri state trooper killed on duty.
The ACLU is committed to fair opportunities for all individuals across the country, according to its website. The organization is combating discrimination through legal battles and advocacy for a tolerant nation.
Spouses of highway patrolmen are entitled to 50 percent of the employee’s average salary annually. Glossip and Dennis Engelhard’s relationship is not recognized by the state because same-sex marriage is not legal, so Glossip is being denied those benefits.
Glossip and Engelhard were together for 15 years before Engelhard was killed. They exchanged rings, had a home together and shared cars and bank accounts, according to a news release.
“(Glossip) is seeking the same dignity and security for his family that is granted to other state troopers’ families,” stated a news release from Anthony Rothers, the legal director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri.
The ACLU of Eastern Missouri and the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri have represented Glossip in this case since December 2010, when they first filed suit for the benefits of Engelhard.
Engelhard was killed on duty on Christmas Day 2009, when he was struck by a car while responding to an accident. Following Engelhard’s death, flags in Missouri were flown at half-mast and Glossip attended a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in 2010, where he was recognized as Engelhard’s surviving partner.
“Kelly and Dennis were family in every sense of the word,” said John Knight, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project, in a release. “Kelly should be entitled to the same security as other bereaved partners of troopers killed on duty.”
Glossip is not challenging Missouri’s marriage laws but rather the benefits policy, saying it is a violation of his rights under the Missouri Constitution. He is seeking equal protection from the Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol system, [according to the ACLU news release[(http://www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/glossip-v-missouri-department-transportation-and-highway-patrol-employees-retirement-sys).
“It’s painfully unfair that the state that Dennis gave his life to protect would treat us as if we were total strangers,” Glossip said.
According to the release, Glossip is struggling to meet his mortgage payments on the home he owned with Engelhard.
The ACLU appeared in court to challenge this benefit policy under Missouri’s Constitution in April 2012.
The ACLU filed a brief to appeal the case to the Missouri Supreme Court in November. Elected officials, law school professors and an LGBT law enforcement organization filed amici briefs to support Glossip in this case that is now before the Supreme Court, according to an ACLU release.