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Arizona's Domestic Partnership Benefit Case Heard in 9th Circuit Court

The state of Arizona spends about $625 million a year on employee benefits for state workers, $5 million of which goes toward the benefits of domestic partners of the state employees. Yet some lawmakers are trying to cut off benefits to all domestic partners in order to save money in the midst of a budget crisis.

Is it lawful to deny domestic partners benefits when the state does not have an avenue to allow for same-sex couples to legally get married? The Arizona Republic reports that a lawsuit filed on behalf of 10 state employees argues that such a policy violates the U.S. Constitution's equal-protection clause by making it impossible for same sex couples to get health coverage for their partners.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on Monday in the case over domestic partner benefits. There is currently an injunction in place that prevents the state from altering its employee benefits package, but this injunction can be lifted by the court.

While the state of Arizona does not have any laws that allow for domestic partnerships, certain cities in the state like Phoenix have domestic partnership registries that grant visitation rights to a domestic partner in any health-care facility in the city. Employers will also sometimes provide benefits to those that are registered as domestic partners.

To learn more information about domestic partnership registration requirements or about the benefits offered through domestic partnerships in the state, contact a Phoenix family law attorney or an attorney in your area.

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