Same-sex Partner Foiled in WDW Injury Lawsuit

3 Nov

Sometimes people wonder why same-sex couples want marriage rights so badly. Why can’t they just make wills, give each other power of attorney, etc? Or isn’t domestic partnership enough? Well . . . there are some rights that you just can’t get without having your relationship recognized by the state, and the varying levels of recognition come with varying rights and responsibilities.

Here’s an example, from GayCityNews:

A federal judge ruled on October 23 that the same-sex partner of a New Jersey woman injured on a Walt Disney World theme park ride in Florida may not recover damages for “loss of consortium,” defined by New Jersey courts as the “right of a husband or wife to receive compensation for loss of affection, comfort, companionship, society, assistance, and sexual relations as a result of the other’s personal injuries.”

Loss of consortium is a legal concept recognizing that when somebody is injured, their spouse may also be harmed through deprivation of their normal relationship due to hospitalization or physical or mental restrictions that result.

The New Jersey Civil Union Act, which went into effect in February 2007, provides that civil union partners may sue for loss of consortium, but this case involves an incident that took place in June 2004, at which time the couple did not have any legal relationship to each other. The state provided no such recognition then.

Notice that the question decided by the court here is not whether the injured woman had the right to sue (which she most certainly does . . . though I haven’t found any details on that part of the lawsuit). The question here is whether her partner has the right to sue for “loss of consortium,” which her partner could have sued for had they been married.

I know Disney’s a for-profit corporation, so it shouldn’t be surprising that they’d defend themselves against personal injury lawsuits using whatever legal defense is available and effective. I kinda wish they hadn’t. But even more, I wish the laws in every state protected the rights and responsibilities of same-sex couples to the same degree they protect those of us in opposite-sex marriages.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: