Brief Fact Summary. William Thomas Cooper lived in a homosexual life partnership with Ernest Chin. Cooper left everything to the petitioner in his will with the exception of certain real estate that constituted over 80% of the entire estate. The Petitioner sought to take an elective share of the estate as Cooper’s surviving spouse.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A state surviving spouse election statute does not apply to homosexual life partners and does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the State Constitution
Issue. Whether a statue that does not include a homosexual life partner in its definition of a surviving spouse violates the Equal Protection Clause of the State Constitution?
Held. No. A statute that does not include homosexual life partners in its definition of a surviving spouse is not unconstitutional because according to case law, prohibition of same sex marriages is not a denial of the Equal Protection Clause. Furthermore, homosexual activity is not a fundamental right. . This Court has held that a lesbian parent is not a parent under Domestic Relations law. The absence of an express statutory prohibition against same-sex marriages does not mean the legislature intended to authorize such marriages. The Supreme Court of Minnesota has held that marriage is one that employs that of common usage, a state of union between a man and a woman.
Discussion. Because the State Constitution did not create a fundamental right to homosexual activity and classifications of marriage as a man and a woman serve a legitimate state interest, the statute excluding homosexuals from the definition of a surviving spouse are is not unconstitutional.