State Capitol News
7:57 am
Sat July 24, 2010

Federal Judge Blocks State from Cancelling Insurance Benefits for Domestic Partners of Gay and Lesbian State Employees

Phoenix, AZ – It was the administration of then Gov. Janet Napolitano that
changed state regulations in 2008 to expand the benefits to
domestic partners, both gay and straight. About 800 employees
signed up. But once Napolitano was gone, lawmakers voted to
redefine who is a dependent. On Friday Judge John Sedwick said
there is enough evidence of discrimination to block the state
from taking away the benefits, at least from gay workers.
Attorney Tina Borelli of Lamba Legal said the ruling is
important.

(It recognizes that gay and lesbian employees do the same work as
their heterosexual colleagues and they deserve the same
compensation for it. This is simply about equal pay for equal
work.)

The judge rejected claims by the state that the policy will cause
financial harm to the state. He said the amount of money involved
is perhaps less than three-tenths of a percent of what the state
spends on health care. In any case, Sedwick said the state can't
solve its financial problems by discrimination. Friday's ruling
doesn't help straight unmarried couples who are still on track to
lose their domestic partner benefits at the end of the year.
Borelli said they weren't included in the lawsuit because they're
in a different situation. They can get benefits for their
partners by getting married, an option not open to gay and
lesbian workers. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.