Connors v. City of Boston
In a disappointing decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court struck down an Executive Order issued by Boston Mayor, Thomas Menino, granting health insurance benefits to registered domestic partners of city employees, thus constraining the City of Boston’s ability to set the terms of employee benefits, including domestic partner benefits. The Order came under legal attack from the Catholic Action League and Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law & Justice. In their suit, the plaintiffs claimed that the Mayor did not have the power to issue the Executive Order on this topic, and that the Executive Order was equivalent to marriage (common law marriage, a marital status, or “homosexual marriage”).
GLAD intervened in the suit to defend the Executive Order, on behalf of itself and a City employee, Kay Schmidt and Schmidt’s domestic partner, Diane Pullen, and their two children, all of whom received health insurance through the Executive Order. While noting the importance of health insurance for all families and urging the legislature to address the issue, the Court rules that the extension of group health insurance to domestic partners of municipal employees conflicted with an existing statewide law and, therefore, was beyond the “home rule” powers of cities and towns. The unfortunate ruling has undermined similar municipal domestic partner benefits programs around the state.