In 2009 a Missouri State Highway Patrolman was killed in the line of duty when he was struck by a car on an icy road as he assisted stranded motorists. On Tuesday the state Supreme Court ruled that his partner is not entitled to any survivor benefits.
His partner of 15 years, Kelly Glossip, filed suit after he was denied survivor benefits. By law, those benefits are limited to a surviving spouse. Glossip argued that the law was discriminatory because Missouri state law also forbids same-sex marriage. He also claims it is an unconstitutional special law. The court rejected these claims. In a 5-2 opinion, the court ruled that the law Glossip was challenging discriminated on the basis of marriage, not sexual orientation. “Glossip was denied survivor benefits because he and the patrolman were not married, not because of his sexual orientation,” the ruling document stated. “If Glossip and the patrolman had been of different sexes, Glossip would have still been denied benefits no matter how long or close their relationship had been. The result cannot be any different here simply because Glossip and the patrolman were of the same sex. The statute discriminates solely on the basis of marital status, not sexual orientation.