SW Legal studies in Business

Policy of Limiting Health Benefits to Only Certain Domestic Partners Constitutional
Description Appeals court upheld the constitutionality of a school board policy offering health benefits to the spouse in a marriage and to domestic partners of the same sex. The policy denies health benefits to domestic partners of the opposite sex. The policy is rational since there is a sound basis for providing benefits for same-sex partners and to promote the institution of marriage.
Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words Equal Protection; Due Process; Domestic Partner Benefits
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Irizarry has lived with the same man for more than 20 years and has two children with him, but they never married. As an employee of the Chicago public school system, she receives health benefits, but he is not eligible for those benefits, which he would be if they were married. The school system provides health benefits to domestic partners of the same sex, but not to domestic partners of the opposite sex. Irizarry sued, contending that the policy denies equal protection and due process. The district court dismissed the suit; Irizarry appealed.
Decision Affirmed. The school policy is rationally related to the board's goal of allowing homosexual couples to obtain benefits which are otherwise unavailable due to legal prohibition of homosexual marriage, and to attract homosexual teachers in order to provide support for homosexual students, and thus does not violate the equal protection rights of school employees who cohabited with a person of the opposite sex. Public policy favors marriage. Statistics indicate that marriage means longer life expectance, greater happiness, and economic benefits, which refutes the claim that policies in support of marriage are irrational and thus unconstitutional. The policy has a rational basis and withstands scrutiny under the equal protection clause. Similarly, there was no deprivation of property in violation of the due process clause since no law was violated by the policy.

Citation Irizarry v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, 251 F.3d 604 (7th Cir., 2001)

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