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State to Appeal 9th Circuit Ruling on Domestic Partnership Benefits

The fight over health benefits for same-sex partners of state government workers is far from over. Arizona is again tenaciously appealing a state court’s ruling that its law banning same-sex partners’ benefits is unconstitutional, reports the East Valley Tribune.

Arguing that Arizona elected officials’ control over state finances is at stake, Governor Jan Brewer’s office said it will ask a full panel of justices from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the law. The state law, which was signed by Governor Brewer in 2009, repealed Arizona state employees’ domestic partnership benefits for healthcare.

A three-justice panel from the 9th Circuit had already ruled the law was unconstitutional earlier this month. Its ruling upheld the decision of a federal district court to block the law from taking effect because it violated the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause. In its filing, the governor's office accused the federal appellate court of attempting to "indirectly invalidate Arizona's marriage laws," according to the Tribune.

Arizona voters had constitutionally banned gay couples from getting married, legally preventing same-sex partners from sharing benefits.

Typically, the odds of a successful appeal are quite low. Appellate courts give the trial courts great leeway in conducting trials, and appellate courts will only overturn verdicts which contain clear, serious errors of law. Nevertheless, the state has been very adamant in supporting its decision to repeal domestic partnership benefits for state employees. Now, it is in the hands of the 9th Circuit to decide whether it will let the state defend its law again.

To learn more information about domestic partnership benefits offered in Arizona, contact a Phoenix family law attorney or see our Related Resources section.

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