Joe Mirabella

St. Louis officer killed in the line of duty, life long partner left in the cold

Filed By Joe Mirabella | February 03, 2010 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: DOMA, Missouri

The AP reports:

Engelhard.jpgKelly Glossip and Dennis Engelhard shared love, a life together for 15 years and a modest ranch home in Robertsville.

But in a state that doesn't recognize gay marriage, the two men didn't have a legal document that may have entitled Glossip to Engelhard's state pension.

Cpl. Engelhard, a 49-year-old Missouri State Highway patrolman, was hit and killed by a vehicle on Christmas Day while he investigated an accident on Interstate 44 in Eureka. Glossip, 43, has no legal right to Engelhard's pension, though he was named as beneficiary on other assets.

The patrol says state law allows only a spouse or eligible dependent to claim an officer's pension.

"He was a great officer and doing his job and protecting the citizens of Missouri up to the day he was struck and killed," Lt. John Hotz said Friday. "Missouri statute spells out who will benefit from retirement. It's not determined by the Highway Patrol."

Glossip is no activist, but he says he and Engelhard were upfront about their relationship because it was important to show they were "regular, everyday people." And Missouri, he says, needs a civil union law that would confer to gay couples the same rights enjoyed by married heterosexual couples.

"It's so unfair not to have equal rights," he said Friday.

Not only is the pension out of reach, but so is the status of the couple's home. While they co-owned the home, his parents are considered co-owners at this point.

Missouri passed a constitutional amendment during the Bush anti gay insanity of 2004. Missouri still suffers the conservatism of the South and it is unlikely they will pass a constitutional amendment recognizing same sex marriage. It will take federal intervention, like so many other states to create change.

The right wing is using this opportunity to be jerks:

Kerry Messer, founder and president of conservative Missouri Family Network, said that even in the case of unmarried heterosexual couples, rights defer to blood relatives first.

"Common law marriage doesn't exist in Missouri for a very good reason," he said. "It throws other laws into a tailspin and muddies every other policy. The state says 'get married or live with the status quo.' That's true for gays and heterosexuals."

The obvious difference Kerry Messer is purposefully neglecting to point out, heterosexuals have legal protections at their disposal. Glossip and Engelhard did not have such a luxury. Their peers a few hours to the north in Iowa certainly do, but not in Missouri.

Of coarse Messer probably knew that, but the right wing never misses an opportunity to pour acid in our wounds.

The couple's church, Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis has set up a fund at US Bank to help Glossip.


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Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | February 3, 2010 1:57 PM

You know, there are literally hundreds of charities that make it their business to help officers' families who are stuck like this when the officer is killed. Are we hearing crickets from them as well? Since most of them are church based, I expect so. Let down by your government and then by the safety net. It's the Christian way.

I think Nancy's post on TBP is a great response to what Messer said:

http://www.bilerico.com/2010/02/its_economic_interdependence_not_marriage_that_sho.php

Actually, there are states that give these benefits outside marriage (like California), and they're doing just fine. "Get married or get nothing" isn't a great system when fewer and fewer people are getting married, unless the point is to intentionally deny people legal rights.