Thursday, February 10, 2011

Gay's not welcomed in Arizona

A second big relationship case in 9th Circuit Monday Keen News Service

The case is Collins v. Brewer from Arizona. The case, brought by Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, pits a group of 10 gay state employees (including Tracy Collins) against a new state law barring them from signing up their domestic partners and children for family health insurance coverage. Such family coverage is made available to straight employees who are married.

In 2009, Governor Jan Brewer signed budget legislation that included a measure—referred to as Section O—to prohibit gay state employees from signing up their domestic partners for health coverage, as they had been allowed to do under former Governor Janet Napolitano. That new law was due to go into effect on January 1 of this year, but a federal district court judge last July ordered the state not to begin enforcing it. The court then later ruled that Section O violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection by discriminating against the gay state employees based on their sexual orientation and the sex of their life partner.

The state appealed that decision to the 9th Circuit. Judges Sidney Thomas and Mark Bennett (both Clinton appointees) and Mary Schroeder (a Carter appointee) will comprise the panel hearing the appeal.

Attorneys for Arizona argue that the district court’s decision was “illogical.”

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