Ind. AG denies acknowledging civil unions after collapse

December 21, 2011 10:44:25 AM PST
The same-sex partner of a Chicago woman killed in the collapse of a stage at the Indiana State Fair will receive more than $300,000 in a settlement payment from a state that does not formally recognize her relationship.

Alisha Brennon and her partner Christina Santiago attended a concert at the state fair in August when a strong and swift-moving storm sent pieces of the stage crashing into the crowd. Santiago, a well-known activist in Chicago's gay and lesbian community, was among seven people who died. Brennon, who also suffered significant injuries, sued the state of Indiana seeking recognition of the couple's Illinois civil union.

Some in Chicago's LGBT community had hoped Indiana's decision to pay Brennon $307,861 in the death of her partner signaled Indiana was opening the door to accepting civil unions from other states as well as the rights of same sex couples. However, a spokesperson for the Indiana Attorney General's Office says the money has nothing to do with the couple's relationship. Instead, spokesman Bryan Corbin said Brennon's status as the administrator of her partner's estate, as determined by a probate court, is the reason she will receive the payment.

"The state of Indiana does not recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions," Corbin said.

The 58 people who were injured as well as the estates of the seven people who died were offered settlements from a $5 million pool of money that Indiana law states is its maximum liability in cases like this. The Indiana Attorney General's Office says all but one of the parties involved has accepted a settlement. Checks were put in the mail Tuesday.

Click here for the list of claimants who were offered and accepted settlements and their settlement amounts

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