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Hennepin Ruling: Same-Sex Partner Entitled To Inheritance

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) -- A referee in Hennepin County District Court has found that Minnesota's Defense of Marriage Act does not deny same-sex partners the right to inherit each other's assets.

James Morrison and Thomas Proehl of Minneapolis lived together for 25 years and got married four years ago in California, where same-sex marriage is legal.

But Proehl died of a heart attack last year, leaving behind some $250,000 in assets. Under Minnesota's Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, that money would go to his parents, not his partner.

But this week, a Hennepin County referee has ruled in favor of the partner.

William Mitchell Attorney Eileen Scallen says the ruling could carry weight for others in same-sex relationships.

"Maybe not legal weight but it will have a clear weight in showing how harmful these DOMA laws can be," said Scallen.


It's the first such ruling to find that Minnesota's 1997 law does not deny the "benefits of marriage" to same sex couples.

Minnesota for Marriage spokesperson Chuck Darrell said the ruling does not affect the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota, because he said there is nothing in the marriage amendment that would prevent same-sex couples from having inheritance rights.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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