IT’S COMPLICATED BY ALASKA STATUTE
A lawsuit is claiming the State of Alaska is denying a woman an Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend because she is in a same-sex marriage to a member of the military and is out of state.
Denali Nicole Smith, whose Alaska voter address is in District 20 in downtown Anchorage, says she was told by someone at the Permanent Fund Division that she would have qualified for her oil wealth dividend if she had been married to a man, rather than a woman.
Smith is said to be in a marriage with Miranda Murphy, a member of the military who is stationed in Jacksonville, Fla. The two evidently married in Florida this year, although MRAK is not able to verify when.
Alaska’s constitution defines marriage as a sanctioned relationship between one man and one woman. That provision was struck down as unconstitutional in 2015 by the U.S. Supreme Court, which effectively legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
Spouses who are with their military husbands or wives while stationed out of state are entitled to their dividends. Smith wants to be treated the same as a heterosexual spouse, and is asking that the state not only pay her the dividend from this year, but also pay the dividends of any other same-sex Alaskans in the same situation, essentially treating those marriages the same as heterosexual marriages.
But it’s unclear if the two were actually married during the relevant timeframe in 2018. In a First Coast News segment in Jacksonville in June of 2019, her spouse Miranda Murphy tells the reporter that she’s at the firing range because she’s the only woman in her house.
The two are, in fact, listed as co-owners of a house in Jacksonville, Fla. as of March, 2019, when they purchased it from a management holdings company.
“The State of Alaska denied Plaintiff’s eligibility for the 2019 Permanent Fund Dividend because she is a woman married to a woman who is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States who would, if married to a male member of the Armed Forces of the United States, be categorically eligible for the 2019 PFD,” according to the lawsuit.
“PFD Division representatives also verbally explained to Denali that if she were married to a man, she would not be denied her PFD,” her lawsuit states.
The story was reported first by Steve Quinn at KTVA.