Supreme Court won't hear Arizona domestic partner case

June 27, 2013

It was a far less dramatic decision than earlier rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and Prop 8, but the U.S. Supreme Court quietly declined Thursday to hear an appeal from Gov. Jan Brewer in a case with a complicated history. 

Under Gov. Janet Napolitano, Arizona granted benefits to the domestic partners of state workers -- gay or straight. When Governor Brewer took office in 2009, she signed a law that restricted benefits to spouses and dependent children.

Because same-sex marriage is illegal in Arizona, a group of gay and lesbian state employees sued. They got a preliminary stay, which means domestic partners still get health coverage. The Supreme Court will not hear Arizona’s appeal, so the case now goes to a full trial.

“The state simply can’t single out its lesbian and gay employees for this kind of unequal treatment without some sort of really good excuse, and so far, they haven’t had any," said Lambda Legal’s Tara Borelli, who represents the plaintiffs.

In a statement, Brewer said she is disappointed, and that this was never about discriminating against gays and lesbians but about saving money. According to the state, right now about 300 same-sex domestic partners receive benefits.

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