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Sat Apr 17, 2021, 06:47 AM

Alaska denied benefits to gay couples despite court rulings

I'm posting in the correct group, this time. Thanks to TexasTowelie.

Hat tip, commenter NO-BS-PLZ at Joe.My.God.

Alaska denied benefits to gay couples despite court rulings

Court documents obtained by The Associated Press show that Alaska wrongly denied benefits to same-sex spouses for years by claiming their unions were not recognized even after courts struck down gay marriage bans

By MARK THIESSEN Associated Press
April 15, 2021, 2:18 PM • 5 min read

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Alaska wrongly denied some same-sex spouses benefits for years by claiming their unions were not recognized even after courts struck down gay marriage bans, court documents obtained by The Associated Press show. ... The agency that determines eligibility for a yearly oil wealth check paid to nearly all Alaska residents denied a payout for same-sex spouses or dependents of military members stationed in other states for five years after a federal court invalidated Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage in 2014, the documents show. The practice also persisted after the Supreme Court legalized the unions nationwide in 2015.

In one email from July 2019, a same-sex spouse living out of state with his military husband was denied a check because “unfortunately the state of Alaska doesn’t recognize same sex marriage yet,” employee Marissa Requa wrote to a colleague, ending the sentence with a frowning face emoji.

The practice by the Permanent Fund Dividend Division continued until several people questioned or appealed being denied checks in 2019. Denali Smith, who was denied benefits, sued the state that November, seeking an order declaring that Alaska officials violated the federal court ruling and Smith’s constitutional rights to equal protection and due process.

Smith and the state settled the lawsuit Wednesday. Alaska admitted denying benefits to same-sex military spouses and dependents for five years in violation of a permanent injunction put in place by the 2014 U.S. District Court decision. The state also vowed to no longer use the outdated state law, stop denying military spouses and dependents oil checks going forward and update enforcement regulations. There were no financial terms.

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