The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced on Tuesday that Arizona state employees’ domestic partnership benefits should contain the same health insurance benefits as opposite-sex couples, reports the Associated Press.
With its ruling, the Court of Appeals effectively blocked a state law signed by Governor Jan Brewer in 2009 which eliminated Arizona state employees’ domestic partnership benefits for healthcare that had been granted in 2008.
The state reportedly spends $3 million for domestic partnership benefits of Arizona state employees, while $625 million total is spent on state employees. The law barring benefits for domestic partners was supposedly a solution to the financial crisis affecting the state.
Approximately 800 Arizona state employees lost their spousal health benefits.
"For me it's about equal pay for equal work," lead plaintiff and Arizona Highway Patrol Officer Tracy Collins has previously stated. "I do a dangerous job, protecting the people of Arizona. I'm only asking for the same benefits my heterosexual colleagues receive."
After the law was put into effect, a group of 10 Arizona state employees filed a lawsuit, which they won in federal district court. The three-justice panel of the Ninth Circuit agreed with the lower court, stating that the law violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause, according to the Associated Press.
The state now has the option of appealing to the United States Supreme Court. It is also likely given their last two legal wins, that Arizona state employees involved in domestic partnerships will fight to the top to maintain their benefits.
To learn more information about domestic partnership benefits offered in Arizona, contact a Phoenix family law attorney.
- Find a Phoenix Family Law Attorney (FindLaw)
- Domestic Partner Employment Benefits (FindLaw)
- Arizona's Domestic Partnership Benefit Case Heard in 9th Circuit Court (The Phoenix Family Law News Blog)