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  1. #1
    IndianaFuzz's Avatar
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    LODD Missouri Trooper's Partner Denied Benefits

    Fallen Missouri Trooper's Benefits Denied to Same Sex Partner





    The recent death of a Missouri Highway Patrol trooper is putting the rights of same sex couples in Missouri under a microscope. The long-time partner of Corporal Dennis Engelhard believes he should receive death benefits.

    43 year old Kelly Glossip says he and Engelhard were together for nearly 15 years. Yet, he says he's being ignored when it comes to the agencies who normally reach out to the families of fallen law enforcement officers.

    "He was my true love and he always referred to me as his one and only true love and the man of his dreams," Glossip said. "We were hopelessly in love with each other."

    Engelhard was killed on Christmas day while waiting with the driver of a disabled car for a tow truck. He got out of his vehicle and was hit by a passing SUV. It happened on Interstate 44 in Eureka.

    Glossip now feels he's been left out in the cold when it comes to financial benefits normally paid to the families of officers killed in the line of duty. He says he has not been contacted by any of the groups that normally offer those benefits.

    Glossip believes that has at least something to do with Missouri's law forbidding same sex marriages. That's a law he thinks needs to be wiped out.

    "I should have the same rights as any other spouse, as heterosexuals would have. And I just don't understand why people are so bigoted."

    Backstoppers paid $5000 to Engelhard's parents. The group says it didn't know about Glossip's and Engelhard's relationship.

    The Masters, a group dedicated to helping the families of fallen Missouri Highway Patrol troopers, says they are still reviewing the case.

    And for their part, the Missouri Highway Patrol tells us some of Engelhard's benefits will be paid out according to beneficiaries he listed. But a spokesperson says Glossip is not eligible for any benefits through Engelhard's retirement pension because the two aren't legally married in Missouri.

    Glossip has a 17 year old son from a previous relationship who he says considered Dennis his step-father.

    Glossip is now worried about losing the home he and Engelhard lived in together and his car.

    He does say Engelhard's family is helping him pay bills.

    A memorial service for Engelhard is set for this Saturday at Christ Church Cathedral in Downtown St Louis.

    Link to story: Exclusive: Fallen Missouri Trooper's Benefits Denied to Same Sex Partner - KTVI

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It can be hard to say sometimes how much of these types of issues have some blame on that people departmentally don't know about an officer's same sex partner, or if the department knows, but outside agencies do not know. If it is ever a case of not knowing, to some degree, it is needed for any GLBT police officer to make sure that they have their partner listed as such with their department in some capacity, or at least fight to get the department to allow them to list them as the primary beneficiary. And then it is needed for departments to step up to the plate and make sure outside agencies know about it after that officer gets killed. Also, before anyone says it, I'm not talking about a "flavor of the week" temporary boyfriend/girlfriend type deal. I'm talking the kind of relationship where they would get married if allowed to. Englehard and Glossip were together for 15 years, and only death did make them part.

    This article doesn't explain at all about if the department knew beforehand or not. But once the fact is brought up to the agencies that help out with the families of fallen officers, or to the officer's own agency, then we can judge on how those agencies react. Then the matter gets complicated by the fact that state laws don't allow cops like Englehard to enter into officially recognized relationships. However in spite of state laws banning same sex marriage, those same laws do not say that an agency can only distribute funds to the families of fallen officers, nor do they define exactly what a family is for the purposes of pension benefits and LODD benefits. Englehard had a family with Kelly and Kelly's son Zac. The agencies themselves determine what makes up the kind of family that they will recognize. These agencies have the ability to do what is right. Unfortunately, they also have the right to do what is wrong. I know that it would be horrible if I helped pay into my pension fund for years (I have to pay about $250/mo into it), only to have my department suddenly say they are not going to pay out the money that I earned with my hard work and dedication because my loved one was a man. My department does not openly discriminate against me now, but who knows what would happened if I were killed? Hopefully with this story getting more exposure, there might be a chance for justice to be served for the Englehard/Glossip family.

    This story slightly reminds me of the story of Lt. Laurel Hester from Ocean County, NJ. She had to fight, while dying from cancer, for the right for her domestic parter, Stacy Andree, to get her pension benefits just as any married partner of a cop would. In NJ, same sex marriage is not legal, but a state law had been passed that allowed for each county to decide if they wanted to allow domestic partners to receive pension benefits like married partners do. Ocean County's board of "Freeholders" repeatedly voted not to allow such receiving of benefits to take place. Shortly before Lt. Hester's death, the Freeholders were finally convinced to do the right thing and allow Stacy to receive Hester's pension benefits. A documentary was made of this situation, which won an Oscar, called "Freeheld." I would highly recommend looking up and watching this short documentary.

    One thing that is nice to see in this situation is the reaction of the Christ Church Cathedral in Downtown St Louis. Since, at this time, it doesn't look like Trooper Engelhard's partner is going to get benefits from the Missouri State Police, Christ Church Cathedral is sponsoring a contribution drive for Kelly Glossip and their son.

    Contributions can be sent to:

    The Dennis Engelhard Memorial Fund
    c/o Christ Church Cathedral
    1210 Locust Street
    Saint Louis, MO 63101

    I just went to the Officer Down Memorial Page to look at Englehard's page. At the end it talks about who all he is survived by. It says, "his significant other Kelly and her son Zak." So I just sent an email to the ODMP explaining the error and asking for it to be corrected to show the proper respect to the loved one of a man that gave his life so honorably. I guess we will see if they change it or not.
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  2. #2
    lewisipso's Avatar
    lewisipso is offline Injustice/Indifference/In God we trust
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    I wonder how the reaction would be if there was no one else to distribute funds to except an officers same sex partner. And I mean absolutely no one. No family no anything. It would be interesting to see if the proceedure would be the same.
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  3. #3
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    While I am perfectly straight myself, this proves why I think samesex couples should be given the same rights as any other couple.

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  4. #4
    MacLean's Avatar
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    Would his partner have received benefits if it was an unmarried girlfriend situation?
    I'm your huckleberry...

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by maclean View Post
    Would his partner have received benefits if it was an unmarried girlfriend situation?
    Most likely not, most insurance benefits forms read spouse not significant other. My Aunt and her female significant other tied the knot. Just for this reason.
    Just because your sign off after you're shift is done, doesn't mean that it's over and put blinders on. You're a cop 24/7 wether you like it or not. If thats something you can't handle, you should find a new line of work!

  6. #6
    TXCharlie's Avatar
    TXCharlie is offline Former & Future Reserve Officer
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sapper_132 View Post
    Most likely not, most insurance benefits forms read spouse not significant other. My Aunt and her female significant other tied the knot. Just for this reason.
    I wonder how Common Law marriages would affect that? In Texas, a different-sex couple can pretty much be considered married just by telling other people that they're married, sharing bank accounts, living together for a certain amount of time, etc, but not sure about same-sex couples.

    I tend to think if different sex couples can receive legal protections like that, then same-sex couples should also receive the protections - But i do object to calling it a Marriage.

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  7. #7
    IndianaFuzz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TXCharlie View Post
    I tend to think if different sex couples can receive legal protections like that, then same-sex couples should also receive the protections - But i do object to calling it a Marriage.
    To be honest, I don't get as hung up on words like that. I really don't care what it's called, but I should have something that affords me the same rights AND responsibilities as anyone else. And simply by there being some kind of gov't regulated status, regardless of what it's called, that reduces the specter of flimsy excuses for relationships. Though some marriages are rather flimsy too. hehe Or companies/organizations that operate pension funds can just say that an employee can designate a person, regardless of who it is, to be their primary beneficiary. Then they could say you can only change your beneficiary once every two years, or something like that, to prevent someone from picking someone different all the time. But there are ways to handle these situations fairly. But for that to happen might take gov't regulation to make companies/organizations comply. Or the govt can create some legal relationship under whatever name that has a process to go through to enter into it like marriage does, and then people would have to comply.

    Now if there is a religious organization that makes a practice of giving money to families of fallen officers, but doesn't want to do the same for partners of GLBT officers due to their beliefs, then as much as i disagree with their stance, I would support their right to stick to it. But when it comes to a department, a gov't agency, people should be equal.
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  8. #8
    Jenna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IndianaFuzz View Post
    Or companies/organizations that operate pension funds can just say that an employee can designate a person, regardless of who it is, to be their primary beneficiary.
    That would be the most fair way to do it, and it would avoid making any moral judgments about the nature of people's relationships. Ultimately more employers might start doing that just because it's better for business--providing pensions for dependents is just another part of compensation, and in a society where most employees no longer have a spouse who can't work, employers don't really benefit from compensating married employees more than unmarried employees. Offering benefits to one additional person of the employee's choosing, not just a spouse, might actually be more effective for recruiting unmarried people who want to make sure their dependent child, parent, aunt, uncle, sibling, friend, etc. is taken care of if the employee dies, or even married people whose marriages are shaky and/or whose spouses are not financially dependent on them, and would prefer that another person who is financially dependent on them is taken care of if the employee dies. Some employers already have that system in place--it's actually more fair than a system that pays out a lot more total compensation (2 pensions instead of 1) for married employees than for unmarried employees because marital status doesn't make the employee more productive or beneficial to the employer.

    The cost of letting employees designate anyone they want as beneficiaries would be higher for employers, because they would have to provide an extra pension for each employee rather than just each married employee, since most unmarried people who currently don't incur pension costs would then designate a boyfriend, girlfriend, parent, child, sibling, aunt, uncle, friend, etc. But ultimately the cost would come out of the funds allocated to employees' salaries/benefits packages anyway, so it would just be a different way of allocating compensation.

  9. #9
    MacLean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IndianaFuzz View Post
    Or companies/organizations that operate pension funds can just say that an employee can designate a person, regardless of who it is, to be their primary beneficiary. Then they could say you can only change your beneficiary once every two years, or something like that, to prevent someone from picking someone different all the time.
    This sounds fair, except I don't think it matters how often you change it.

    It's a simple paperwork exchange.
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    but every girl I found was either one way or the other...



  10. #10
    Bama512's Avatar
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    Wow, I know officers that have been married to at least 3 different women in the span of 15 years. Thats amazing, but not surprising. Alabama would be the same way.

  11. #11
    Jks9199 is offline The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    Quote Originally Posted by maclean View Post
    Would his partner have received benefits if it was an unmarried girlfriend situation?
    That's kind of what I'm hitting, too.

    That, and that it seems to be all about the money. It's not clear whether he's receiving any emotional support that would ordinarily be given to a survivor?

    When I say this, don't get me wrong. If it comes down that I die in the line of duty, I want my wife & kid to get every dime they can... But I also want to know that someone'll be looking after them beyond the dollars and cents...
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  12. #12
    Bama512's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jks9199 View Post
    That's kind of what I'm hitting, too.

    That, and that it seems to be all about the money. It's not clear whether he's receiving any emotional support that would ordinarily be given to a survivor?

    When I say this, don't get me wrong. If it comes down that I die in the line of duty, I want my wife & kid to get every dime they can... But I also want to know that someone'll be looking after them beyond the dollars and cents...

    I'm betting that he probably knew there wouldn't be much in the way of emotional support. Much like in the case of a gay soldier killed in war. Outside of some close friends that may have known, the dont ask dont tell system is not geared to recognize or work with them.

    However, if these guys spent 15 years together, owned a home together, relied on 2 incomes, I can see where the financial support would be needed. Its not like the mortgage company and credit card companies are going to say, ok...we will give you 6 months to get your emotional support worked out then we will talk to you about your late payments.....nope, they will foreclose & send you to bankruptcy.

    Edit: I see that ODMP memorial now reads that Corporal Englehard was survived by his life partner.

 

 

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