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March 2, 2000

Oral arguments March 3 in same-sex benefits case

Attorneys representing both sides in the lawsuit seeking extension of Pitt health benefits to employees' same-sex partners will square off Downtown tomorrow, March 3.

Common Pleas Court of Allegheny County Judge Robert C. Gallo is scheduled to hear oral arguments at 9:30 a.m. in 708 City-County Building from lawyers for Pitt and for seven current and former University employees. The presentations are open to the public.

Pitt is fighting a 1996 complaint filed with the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations by Deborah Henson, a former legal writing instructor here. Henson alleges that Pitt violated the city's anti-discrimination ordinance by denying health benefits to her lesbian partner. Six current staff members have joined Henson in what is now a class action suit.

In December, the University asked Judge Gallo to end the lawsuit. Both sides subsequently argued their cases in legal briefs filed with Gallo's office, then the judge asked them to make oral arguments.

Until Common Pleas Court rules on Pitt's motion to dismiss, the city Human Relations Commission proceedings in the case remain on hold.

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