SCOTUS decision on gay marriage could impact Arizona domestic benefits ruling

March 26, 2013

Arizona officials will be watching closely as the U.S. Supreme Court considers gay marriage today. The outcome of the case could impact a lawsuit over benefits for domestic partners for gay state and university employees.

A 2010 law which took those benefits away from the domestic partners of unmarried workers has been ruled illegal discrimination as far as gay workers are concerned, since they are prohibited from marrying in Arizona. State Attorney General Tom Horne says everything will change if the court rules gays have the right to marry.

“If gays can marry it makes our case stronger, because the Ninth Circuit decision was even though the overall majority were straights, they could have gotten married and gays can’t,” Horne said. “So, in fact, we only have to give coverage to gays, we don’t have to give it to straights.”

Attorney Tara Borelli, of Lambda Legal, who sued on behalf of gay state employees, doubts any court ruling will be that broad. She says that will leave the state having to defend its position at the Supreme Court, assuming the justices agree to hear Horne's appeal.

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