MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (CBS) – A Chicago woman whose same-sex partner was killed in the Indiana State Fair stage collapse last month has filed lawsuits in connection with the tragedy.
Alisha Brennon was seriously injured when the stage was blown down by a freak blast of wind Aug. 13 as the country act Sugarland prepared to perform. Her partner, Christina Santiago, was among four audience members who died immediately.
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The partners, who were joined in a civil union earlier in the summer, were in the front row when the structure collapsed.
“I was knocked unconscious with her right in front of me on the ground, and I never saw her again,” Brennon tearfully said at a news conference Monday to announced the suits.
Santiago, 29, worked at the Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago as a program manager. Friends and co-workers say she was a dedicated advocate for gay women’s health care.
Brennon wears Santiago’s wedding ring on a chain that hangs around her neck. She filed lawsuits as Santiago’s spouse against the organizers of the event. Her attorney, Kenneth Allen, is seeking damages. He also wants Brennon to get spousal death benefits from the state of Indiana, comparable to those heterosexual couples would receive.
Indiana does not legally recognize same-sex couples.
“Inequality for one group of people is inequality and injustice for all of us, and we can’t abide by that,” Allen said.
The first lawsuits in the Indiana State Fair tragedy were filed soon after the tragedy occurred.