aspen_banner.jpg
Arizona Public Radio | Your Source for NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
State Capitol News

States Want Supreme Court to hear AZ's Challenge to Domestic Partners Law.

Nearly a dozen states want the US Supreme Court to let Arizona deny benefits to the domestic partners of its gay employees.

A federal appeals court ruled last year it was illegal for Arizona lawmakers to say only spouses and dependents of married state and university workers can get benefits. The judges said that denies equal rights to gay workers who cannot marry in Arizona. Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher, writing for his state and 10 others, said states are entitled to promote marriage because it -- quote -- channels sexual desires capable of producing children into stable unions that will raise those children in the circumstances that have proven optimal. But Tara Borelli of Lambda Legal, who represents gay state workers, said this has nothing to do with marriage.

"This is a narrow case," Borelli said. "It just looks at one issue. And that is, as a basic matter of workplace fairness, are gay and lesbian employees entitled to the same compensation as everyone else in the form of family coverage."

But attorney James Campbell of the Alliance Defending Freedom noted that the appellate court ruling hinged on that legal inability of gays to marry in Arizona. And he said that sets a precedent.

"If it's irrational to give that benefit to only legal spouses and not to an unmarried partner or friend, then it is also irrational to give other benefits to legal spouses and not to an unmarried friend or partner," Campbell said.

Campbell said that could set the stage for the appellate court to say there is no rational basis for limiting marriage solely to those of the opposite sex

Related Content