News (USA)

Ariz. governor petitions Supreme Court to deny same-sex partner benefits

PHOENIX — Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a federal appeals court ruling that allows Arizona’s state employees to keep their same-sex partners benefits, including health insurance.

Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.)

Brewer said a federal appeals panel “got it wrong” when it ruled that same-sex partners of state government workers are entitled to the same health care benefits provided to opposite-sex couples.

The petition comes three months after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied a request by the state’s lawyers to re-hear the case en banc, (with the entire 11-judge panel).

On Sept. 6, the appellate court in San Francisco upheld a temporary block on a controversial 2009 state law that sought to eliminate health coverage for gay and lesbian domestic partners of Arizona state employees.

“The district court found that the plaintiffs demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits, because they showed that the law adversely affected a classification of employees on the basis of sexual orientation, and did not further any of the state’s claimed justifiable interests,” wrote the Ninth Circuit three-judge panel.

Brewer had signed the law in 2009 and it was scheduled to take effect last year. Her predecessor, Janet Napolitano — now the Secretary of Homeland Security — had authorized health benefits for state employees’ domestic partners in April 2008.

In the initial suit, the nine plaintiffs — all state employees in same-sex domestic partnerships — stated that if enacted, the loss of health coverage for their partners would cause “serious financial and emotional harm.”

The Ninth Circuit affirmed this complaint, acknowledging that there was a high likelihood of “irreparable harm” if the law were to go into effect.

The plaintiffs in the case, (Diaz), have until August 6 to respond to the Governor’s latest legal maneuver.

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