AP NEWS

The Latest: Official: Alaska recognizes same-sex spouses

November 22, 2019

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Latest on a lawsuit over a denied oil-wealth check in Alaska (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

A Department of Law spokeswoman says the state agency that determines eligibility for payment of checks to Alaska residents from the oil-wealth fund recognizes same-sex spouses.

Cori Mills says by email that the department will have to investigate the specific allegations of a woman who said she was told that if she were married to a man, she would not be denied a check.

Denali Nicole Smith is married to a woman serving in the military and based in Florida. Smith has filed a federal lawsuit over the matter.

The lawsuit alleges the state is wrongly enforcing laws barring recognition of same-sex marriages, five years after a federal judge found such a ban to be unconstitutional.

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3:15 p.m.

A lawsuit contends the state of Alaska is using laws that have been nullified to deny paying a share from the state’s oil wealth fund to the same-sex partner of a military member stationed out of state.

According to the lawsuit, representatives of Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend Division told Denali Nicole Smith she would not have been denied a check this year had she been married to a man. State laws remain on the books, as does a provision in Alaska’s constitution, barring same-sex marriage. They were stricken down in 2015 when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationally.

The lawsuit, first reported by Anchorage television station KTVA, seeks repayment and ending the denial of equal rights for same-sex partners.

The attorney general’s office didn’t have immediate comment.