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The Alaska Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex couples deserve the same access to a property tax exemption that different-sex couples already enjoy. The ACLU brought the suit on behalf of three same-sex couples who were denied the $150,000 exemption that Alaska makes available to senior citizens and disabled veterans.
Alaska state law and its constitution limit marriage to one man and one woman, which meant that the plaintiffs in this state were only considered “roommates,” and thus were eligible for — at most — half of that $150,000 exemption. In its decision, however, the court ruled that the couples in this case are similarly situation and not precluded from the exemption by the ban: “The correct classes for comparison are same-sex couples who wish to marry and opposite-sex couples who wish to marry, not married couples and unmarried couples.” Thus, the couples are entitled to equal protection under the law.
The decision has no immediate impact on the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, but does allow same-sex couples access to a significant benefit they were previously denied.