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Arbitrator: Same-Sex Couples Entitled to County Benefits

County officials are reviewing an arbitration decision on a police union case.

Baltimore County officials are reviewing their options after an arbitrator ruled Tuesday that members of the county police union who were married in same-sex ceremonies are entitled to county benefits.

Don Mohler, a county spokesman, said county attorneys are reviewing the decision, which they received Tuesday.

"The issue for us is complying with state requirements," Mohler said. "The state hasn't taken a clear position."

The union went to arbitration in September after two employees were denied county benefits for their same-sex spouses after marriage ceremonies outside of Maryland.

The ruling, sent to the county and the police union Tuesday, says the county must provide health care, bereavement and other benefits contained in the union contract equally to same-sex and heterosexual couples.

"We're pleased with the arbitrator's decision in this case," said Cole Weston, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4, the union that represents officers in the department.

The benefits in the contract should "apply to all of our members equally," Weston said.

The issue is complicated by the fact that the state has not been clear on how to handle the issue, Mohler said.

Currently, same-sex marriage cannot be legally performed in Maryland. An attempt in the General Assembly this year to .

The state doesn't officially recognize marriages performed in states where it is legal.

Last year, Attorney General Douglas Gansler issued an opinion saying that state courts would likely recognize such marriages—if such a case were filed.

"While the matter is not free from all doubt, in our view, the court is likely to respect the law of other states and recognize a same-sex marriage contracted validly in another jurisdiction," the opinion states. "In light of Maryland’s developing public policy concerning intimate same-sex relationships, the court would not readily invoke the public policy exception to the usual rule of recognition."

Mohler said there's no timeline on when the county will decide if it can and will challenge the ruling.

"It just happened," Mohler said. "We just got it today."

Gomer Pyle November 28, 2011 at 03:21 PM
So where does it end? Do you allow polygamists the same rights? Are people going to be allowed to marry their pets? After all they pay taxes as well.
steve James November 29, 2011 at 03:22 AM
Interesting how gomer Pyle objects to gays being treated equally. His name says it all. \ A DUH. And for someone who said the county shouldnt pay for benefits for gays - well that fine as long as they dont pay for bennies for married str8s So much of the antis are just parroting the right wing churches. Who have always hated someone = blacks, Jews, and now gays. Wonderful, isnt it.
steve James November 29, 2011 at 03:24 AM
there is a solution to the marriage issue. Absolutely no special rights for married couples or gay couples. Includes eg companies and govts paying benefits for the spouses etc. Let the conserfvfative screaming begin
steve James November 29, 2011 at 03:26 AM
as long as you dont ask me to foot the bill for the married str8s. thats what equality is all about.
Steve Michalek November 07, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Did your God fail you?

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