Military same-sex spouse denied Alaska oil check sues

National

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska woman alleges the state is wrongly enforcing laws barring recognition of same-sex marriages, five years after a federal judge found such a ban to be unconstitutional.

In a lawsuit, attorneys for Denali Nicole Smith say Smith was denied eligibility for the check paid to residents from Alaska’s oil-wealth fund that she would have been eligible for had her military spouse been a man.

Department of Law spokeswoman Cori Mills, in an email, said the department would need to look into the allegations and determine what happened. But she said the division that determines eligibility for payment of Alaska Permanent Fund Dividends currently recognizes same-sex spouses.

The lawsuit, first reported by Anchorage television station KTVA, seeks payment of the check. It also seeks a list of individuals since 2014 denied checks based on laws or a provision in the state constitution barring same-sex marriage, and payments of dividends to any such individuals.

In late 2014, a federal judge deemed Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court gave same-sex couples nationally the right to marry.

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, an Anchorage Democrat, said Thursday that even if laws remain on the books barring same-sex marriage, those were nullified by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“It’s not the law anymore in Alaska,” he said of a ban on same-sex marriage. “Even though it’s still on the books, if you were to open up a constitution, you’ll see it there, but it’s not effective. It’s nullified.”

One of Smith’s lawyers, Heather Gardner, said the plaintiffs do not believe this is a “one-time thing for the Permanent Fund Dividend program.”

She said she and attorney Caitlin Shortell, who were among the attorneys who successfully sued to overturn Alaska’s ban on gay marriage, “have reason to believe it’s not a rogue clerk” at the Permanent Fund Dividend Division.

The lawsuit says division representatives told Smith that if she were married to a man, she would not be denied a check.

Jahna Lindemuth, an attorney general under former Gov. Bill Walker, said she was unaware of any such case during her tenure, which began in the summer of 2016 and ended last year.

According to the lawsuit, Smith was born and raised in Anchorage and went to college in California in 2014, before returning to Anchorage in 2016.

In 2018, she married Miranda Murphy, an Alaska resident stationed with the military in Florida, according to the lawsuit. After they married, Smith moved to Florida with her wife.

The lawsuit names as defendants several state officials, including Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Attorney General Kevin Clarkson.

___

Thiessen reported from Anchorage, Alaska.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Overcast

Abbeville

46°F Overcast Feels like 46°
Wind
0 mph
Humidity
92%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

A few clouds. Low 57F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
60°F A few clouds. Low 57F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
5 mph S
Precip
10%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waxing Gibbous
Clear

Crowley

45°F Clear Feels like 45°
Wind
0 mph
Humidity
97%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

A few clouds from time to time. Low 57F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
60°F A few clouds from time to time. Low 57F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
6 mph S
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waxing Gibbous
Overcast

Opelousas

45°F Overcast Feels like 41°
Wind
7 mph NNE
Humidity
98%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy skies early will give way to cloudy skies late. Low near 55F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
60°F Partly cloudy skies early will give way to cloudy skies late. Low near 55F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
8 mph S
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waxing Gibbous
Clear

Breaux Bridge

47°F Clear Feels like 47°
Wind
3 mph NNE
Humidity
93%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

A few clouds. Low 56F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
60°F A few clouds. Low 56F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
6 mph S
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waxing Gibbous
Clear

New Iberia

48°F Clear Feels like 48°
Wind
0 mph
Humidity
100%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy skies. Low 56F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
55°F Partly cloudy skies. Low 56F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
7 mph SSE
Precip
0%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waxing Gibbous

Sidebar

Trending Stories