Same Sex Couple Fight For Equal Rights - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Same Sex Couple Fight For Equal Rights

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The Department of Justice announced on Monday that married same sex couples will now receive equal treatment as opposite sex couples when they file for bankruptcy, testify in court or visit family in prison.

In Montana, six same-sex couples continue to fight for legal protections which they say are not given to them under Montana's constitution.

Rich Parker and Mike Long have been together for 12 years and got married this past November.

"We have a life together. We have a mortgage, two black labs and a son in college," said Long. "We would like to have the same protections under Montana state laws that other couples can have."

Parker and Long are one of the six couples in Montana along with the American Civil Liberties Union suing the state of Montana for failing to offer legal protections to same-sex couples and their families.

"I want to make sure that the gay youth of this state feel comfortable being out there," said Parker.

Unlike opposite sex couples Parker and Long are denied state rights such as work compensation, state pensions or death benefits.

"We really believe that these committed and loving couples have a right to be able to take care of one another," said Amy Cannata, ACLU Communications Director. "We're going to do everything we can to make sure that happens here in Montana."

"Marriage is still forbidden under the Montana constitution and we're not questioning that. We're questioning the part of the Montana constitution that says everyone should be treated equally under the law," said Long.

This is not the first time the lawsuit has been filed. In December 2012, the Montana Supreme Court denied the request for domestic partnerships saying the complaint didn't specify statues that discriminate.  

A new complaint was filed in July 2013, outlining specific acts of discrimination.
This Wednesday, attorneys on both sides will discuss the facts of the case.

"Right now, it's in the discovery phase. We're still looking at sending documentation back and forth with the state," said Cannata.

Long said a trial date for the case is set in December in District court in Helena.

"It makes me feel optimistic that it will happen," said Long.

Currently, there are 18 states in the country where same-sex marriage is legal.

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