Baltimore County Must Grant Equal Employment Benefits
Baltimore County must grant equal employment benefits to same-sex couples, Lambda Legal announced today, the result of a binding arbitration decision secured after the organization and police union filed grievances on behalf of Baltimore County police officers Margaret Selby and Juanika Ballard, who had been turned down for benefits for their same-sex spouses.
“Under Maryland law, Officer Selby and Officer Ballard both have legal spouses who should be recognized. We are pleased that Baltimore County will finally have to fulfill its obligation to these dedicated long-time employees who just want to protect their families,” said Susan Sommer, Lambda Legal Director of Constitutional Litigation. “This binding arbitration order is the final step in a long process. For years, these police officers have put themselves in harm’s way to keep Baltimore County safe. Now they will get the same employee protections for their spouses that other officers get.”
After marrying her partner of nearly two decades in Massachusetts where same-sex couples may legally wed, Officer Margaret Selby filed a request with the Baltimore County Police Department to add her spouse, Ms. Colette Hayward, to her health care coverage, and to confirm that Ms. Hayward is eligible to receive other spousal protections. She was denied. Officer Juanika Ballard and her spouse, Monica Williams, have been together for over six years and in June 2009 were married in Connecticut. When Officer Ballard requested spousal benefits, she also was denied. Representatives of Baltimore County told both women the benefits were denied because their spouses were of the same sex.
Officer Selby and her wife, Colette Hayward, raised two daughters together. Officer Selby said, “I’ve put my life on the line to protect the people of Baltimore County. Like all my fellow officers, I need spousal benefits so that I can protect my family.”
Officer Juanika Ballard and her wife, Monica Williams, are raising three sons together and they are expecting twins. Officer Ballard said, “My wife Monica, like other police officers’ spouses, worries that I will be hurt in the line of duty. No one can predict the future, but these benefits provide the safety net that other married couples have.”
“We are glad that these officers can finally rest assured that they can receive equal benefits to protect their families,” added Sommer, “but every married same-sex couple shouldn’t need a lawyer to secure the protections their co-workers can take for granted.