Federal Appeals Court Says Same-Sex Partners of Arizona State Employees Can Have Health Benefits

You may recall that back in 2009, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer eliminated state domestic partner benefits a year after they were implemented. The 9th Circuit today dealt Brewer a defeat, upholding an injunction barring enforcement of the law Brewer signed, Courthouse News Service reports:

Brewer A group of nine gay and lesbian state employees sued Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer and other officials in Phoenix, alleging violations of their rights to equal protection and due process.

The state argued that it had canceled the benefits to save money, but it failed to show how much the benefits actually cost, according to the ruling.    

U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick enjoined the law, ruling that it was likely unconstitutional and that the plaintiffs were apt to suffer great harm if it went into effect.

The 9th Circuit affirmed unanimously, finding that the state's justification was doomed to fail even if the state explained its cost-saving theory.

The Tucson Citizen adds:

In issuing its ruling Tuesday, the appellate court ruled that denying the benefits would violate the equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

“Today’s decision by the Ninth Circuit means Arizona’s lesbian and gay state employees will not suddenly find themselves without vital family health coverage,” said Tara Borelli, a staff attorney with Lambda Legal, a New York-based advocacy group that filed the lawsuit on behalf of seven state employees. “Our clients are simply seeking equal pay for equal work.”

In February, lawyers for Arizona used cost-cutting excuses in an attempt to keep from having to pay the benefits while the 9th Circuit made its decision.


  1. says

    Canceled the benefits to gay and lesbian state employees for “cost saving reasons.” Hmmm, wouldn’t they save a lot more money if they cut off the benefits to straight employees? They kind of, you know, outnumber us and cost way way way more. At least a court saw through the this irrational piece of nonsense instigated by anti-all-minorities Gov. Brewer, who should have a sign pinned to her saying, Constitutionally Unfit for Office.

  2. tim says

    I don’t understand the “cost saving” explanation. If those gay employees were to suddenly become straight and marry the opposite sex (because being gay is a choice, so they say) the state would then pay those benefits. It’s blatant discrimination to say that a certain group is not worth state resources that another is entitled to.

  3. Gary says

    Jan “Leatherface” Brewer is a complete trainwreck. She cuts cost on gay employee’s healthcare yet WHO pays for her criminally insane son (convicted of kidnap and rape) thats been at the Arizona Mental Hospital for the last 20yrs. The taxpayers! Hey Jan—pay for your own damn sons healthcare!

  4. says

    The hypocrisy in these Republican morons NEVER ceases to amaze me! They argue that they don’t want to provide gay and lesbian couples with state-sponsored health insurance and yet they are the FIRST ones who will cut funding to healthcare programs for the under/uninsured when these thousands of men and women end-up without health insurance. They are absolutely PATHETIC!

  5. MikeInSanJose says

    I would have to agree with Ernie above, seems it would save more to cut off benefits to a majority group who, presumably, has all the weight and support of the entrenched white male (insert popular favorite religion here) group rather than support for a random few who are abused, assaulted, molested, and murdered by members of (insert popular favorite religion here) simply because they woke up that morning being who they are and not who some fictitious deity in a book of myth told a bunch or crazies that they should be.

    Hell, the savings in emergency ambulance recoveries and hospital emergency personnel, time, and supplies alone far outweighs any imagined or invented argument about how much government saves by oppressing portions of its own populace.

  6. Pete n SFO says

    Ironic, isn’t it?

    The Federal 9th Circuit overruled the discriminatory law, but equal partner benefits are hardly the law in the whole of the USA.

    Every get the feeling that we’re watching the wrong ball?

  7. says

    While a section of population is against homosexuality, these countries seem to have made their own mark. I hope people are more broad minded. There is no sense in punishing one practicing homosexuality. It’s just their way of life.

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