Levitt & Dakota v. New Mexico Retiree Health Authority - About the Plaintiffs

Havens Levitt and Rebecca Dakota

Havens taught geometry, algebra and pre-calculus to Delnorte High School students for 23 years. Now she teaches math at the South Valley Academy charter school. She's working toward a master's degree in secondary education and is excited about applying the new approaches she is learning to get kids interested in math. When she's not in the classroom, Havens is on the basketball court. She plays on an "over 50" team.

Although probably best known for her prize-winning piecrusts - she even produced a DVD entitled "Pie Crust 101" -- Rebecca earns a living by working two part-time jobs. She both works for a tobacco education program that aims to help people quit smoking and serves as the part-time director of the Albuquerque Independent Business Alliance, which encourages people to shop locally-owned businesses and preserve the area's character and charm. Because both of these jobs are part-time, Rebecca is not eligible for insurance and is forced to rely on Havens to cover her as a domestic partner.

Havens and Rebecca, 54 and 52, have been together 11 years. They've known each other for 25 years as members of the same group of friends. It wasn't until a group camping trip in 1996 that Havens and Rebecca found themselves hiking together, caught up in conversation and suddenly realizing they were each what the other was looking for.Havens and Rebecca don't have children, but they have supportive nieces and nephews who love their aunts. Their elderly parents are still alive, and are happy that their daughters have found life partners. Havens has many former students who credit her for helping cultivate their math skills, which have led to meaningful careers.

Havens and Rebecca fear retirement and their golden years together because Rebecca will be denied access to Havens' health plan when Havens retires. "We only want to be treated the same as other employees and their spouses."

Mary Meyer and Hope Miner

Mary Meyer, 48, and Hope Miner, 55, will be celebrating their 13th anniversary together this year. The couple, who are raising two children together, live in Sandoval County and enjoy all the great outdoors has to offer including traveling in their tent trailer, kayaking and skiing. Hope is also an avid gardener and enjoys growing food for her family to eat.

Mary has worked for the New Mexico Department of Health for 22 years. She is currently a program manager for the WIC Nutrition Program, serving Bernalillo and Sandoval Counties. Hope retired in 2003 after 25 years with the Albuquerque school system as an elementary teacher, but continues to work in the schools, running a nutrition and exercise program that teaches young people how to cook.

During most of their relationship together, domestic partner health coverage wasn't available to state employees, so the couple was forced to carry separate insurance, which they each had to contribute towards monthly. So when Governor Richardson issued an executive order in April 2003 providing state employees with the option of covering their domestic partners on the state health plan, the couple jumped at the opportunity to lessen their monthly expenses. Since the benefits were only available to Mary at the time, Mary covered Hope as her domestic partner.

But they didn't realize then that the domestic partner coverage would disappear once Mary retired. That fact was made painfully clear about 18 months ago when the couple received a letter from the state notifying them that the domestic partner coverage would no longer be available once Mary retired. This unfair termination of health insurance only applies to domestic partners. Married state employees are eligible to continue to cover their spouses after retirement from the state.

After working for the state for 22 years, Mary would like to retire when she becomes eligible in three years. But at that point the couple will incur additional monthly expenses because they will each have to contribute toward their own coverage.

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