PHOENIX — Lambda Legal attorneys are in court in Arizona arguing that state and university gay employees hired in the future should have access to domestic partner health coverage. Because the state passed a 2008 constitutional amendment bans same-sex marriage there, attorneys say gays are at a disadvantage.
Attorney Tara Borelli of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund wants U.S. District Judge John Sedwick to void a 2009 Arizona law that says benefits such as health insurance are available only to those who are married, the Arizona Daily Star reports. Assistant Attorney General Charles Grube argues that domestic partner health coverage is not a fundamental right and that there’s no discrimination because straight domestic partners can’t access the benefits either.
Borelli counters that straight couples can access the benefits by marrying, an option same-sex couples don’t have, the Star reports.
The state has had a complex history in providing the benefits which are currently offered under an injunction blocking a law that excluded gay couples passed by a Republican-controlled state legislature in 2009.
Borelli countered a claim from Gov. Jan Brewer that dire finances are a factor by saying that gays make up just 0.2 percent of all state employees getting benefits and that the impact on state coffers would be minimal, the Star reports.