WASHINGTON — Gay marriage advocates marked another victory Thursday after the Supreme Court rejected appeals from Arizona and Nevada involving the rights of same-sex couples.
The justices let stand an appeals court ruling blocking enforcement of an Arizona law that made state employees in same-sex relationships ineligible for domestic partner benefits. The Nevada case was a challenge to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
In the Arizona case, Gov. Jan Brewer had petitioned the court to overturn the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Brewer v. Diaz, in which that court concluded that Arizona violated the constitutional rights of LGBT Arizona state employees when it passed a law stripping them of their domestic partner benefits in 2009.
Lambda Legal filed suit on behalf of ten state employees and their families. Arizona’s constitution bars same-sex marriage, so gay couples had no way to obtain the state benefits.
“Yesterday’s victories at the Supreme Court thrilled LGBT people across the country, but it also reminded those living in many states of the inequality they and their families continue to face,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.
“Today’s order brings Arizonans a step closer to enjoying the equality that all Americans deserve and that we are all committed to ensuring for everyone, everywhere. We congratulate Lambda Legal and their courageous plaintiffs in their successful fight against the callous discrimination of their elected officials,” said Griffin.
Article continues belowThe Nevada case was originally filed on behalf of eight same-sex couples, and it argued that a 2002 state constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by denying same-sex couples in Nevada the same rights that other married couples enjoy.
In that case, the Court declined to accept early review of the case, Sevcik v. Sandoval.
The plaintiffs then appealed that decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco while the anti-gay marriage group requested the Supreme Court hear the appeal instead of the San Francisco court.
The group, the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage wanted to bypass the federal appeals court — the same court that ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional — but that is where the case now will be considered.