First Responders File Brief Supporting Same Sex Marriage
Say police officers and others deserve same benefits for spouses of opposite sex couples
Aug. 04, 2014
Beth Piette (left at podium) and spouse, IMPD Officer Teresa Welborn (wibc.com photo: Ray Steele)
The latest brief in Indiana's same sex marriage case comes from first responders who are in favor the right of the couples to marry.
More than 100 police officers, firefighters and emergency medical providers signed the brief, which will be filed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on Tuesday. Among the first responders signing the brief are couples who were married in other states and want Indiana to recognize their marriage. "Once we were married, we could file (our taxes) federally, but we can't file our state taxes together, and if something happened to me, she's not taken care of," said Teresa Welborn, an officer with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, referring to her spouse, Beth Piette. Welborn and Piette have been together three-and-a-half years and were married in Hawaii last year.
“We are fighting for marriage equality for all Hoosiers, but we want to highlight the fact that first responders place themselves in harm’s way every day and deserve to know that their families will be protected if they are hurt or killed in the line of duty," the brief will read. Given the increase in attacks on police officers in Indy, Welborn says she worries about going to work knowing that the state won't recognize their marriage as legal during the appeal. "There's no benefits under the law for my spouse, the (public employee retirement) benefits, the state government benefits," Welborn said.
Attorney General Greg Zoeller argues that states have the right to make their own laws on marriage. His position was supported by a brief from ten other attorneys general last month.
The 7th Circuit court will hear oral arguments August 26 in Indiana's appeal of U.S. District Judge Richard Young's ruling that struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Indiana's case has been consolidated with a similar appeal from Wisconsin's attorney general.