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Lesbian couples fight same-sex benefits verdict

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Partners Kaylynn LaGamma and Barbara Henson. - MICHAEL DE YOANNA

Two lesbian couples are appealing a judge's decision to dismiss their lawsuit that seeks to restore health benefits for partners of homosexuals who work for the city of Colorado Springs.

"Fighting this is the right thing to do," says Kaylynn LaGamma, who sought benefits through her partner Barbara Henson, a former Colorado Springs police dispatcher.

"We will keep fighting it to the Supreme Court, if that's what it takes."

Henson and LaGamma joined Connie Trujillo, a unit clerk at Memorial Hospital, and her partner, Susan Osorio, in filing the lawsuit last year. The suit argues that City Council discriminated against gays and lesbians when it voted in 2003 to revoke same-sex benefits just months after offering them.

But in January, District Court Judge Richard Hall ruled that the city is not required to provide benefits to a couple that is not defined as married under state law. He also found no malice in City Council's decision to cut the benefits.

The couples filed the appeal about a week ago.

Henson says she is fighting the verdict because her supervisors refused to let her leave work in October 2000, after LaGamma was hospitalized for a major seizure. Around the same time, supervisors allowed another employee to take two days off work to mourn the death of a dog, Henson alleges.

"We are more than dogs," she says.

Sue Skiffington-Blumberg, a spokeswoman for the city, says city attorneys are unable to comment about allegations surrounding the suit, because it is ongoing.

Henson left the city last year to become a dispatcher for the city of Boulder, where same-sex benefits are offered.

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