Six committed same-sex couples, with the aid of the ACLU, sued the state of Montana on July 22, 2010 for failing to provide legal protections for their families in violation of the Montana Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection. The goal of this lawsuit was to see that same-sex couples are able to protect their families with the same kind of legal protections that opposite-sex couples would be offered through marriage.

Plaintiffs in the case have been hurt by statutes that treat committed same-sex couples differently than married couples. Mary Leslie of Bozeman lost her home in part because she was ineligible for worker’s compensation death benefits when her former partner was killed in a workplace accident. Another plaintiff, Denise Boettcher of Laurel, was denied bereavement leave when her partner Kellie Gibson’s father died

.In December 2012, the Montana Supreme Court denied the ACLU’s appeal challenging every state statute excluding committed same-sex couples from protections granted to opposite-sex, married couples, but the Justices said the ACLU could move forward with statute-specific efforts to secure equal treatment for same-sex couples in the state. The amended complaint does just that

.In July 2013, the ACLU of Montana filed an amended complaint, challenging specific statutes that treat same-sex couples unconstitutionally.

After marriage equality was decided in the Rolando vs State case, this case was dismissed. 


Jim Taylor (ACLU MT), Elizabeth Gill (Staff attorney with ACLU's LGBT Project)

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Ben Alke and James Goetz of Goetz, Gallik & Baldwin P.C.; and Ruth Borenstein, Stuart Plunkett, Ariel Ruiz and Emil

Date filed

July 22, 2010


Montana First Judicial District Court, Lewis and Clark County


Jeffrey Sherlock



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