Arizona gov asks Supreme Court to overturn domestic partner benefits

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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer with day campers on a Salvation Army tour. - PHOTO: governor's office

Gov. Jan Brewer is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an injunction blocking Arizona from eliminating domestic partnership benefits for gay state employees.

The Republican governor is perhaps best known on a national level as the defender of Arizona’s controversial “show me your papers” anti-immigrant law.

Brewer, in an appeal filed on July 2, is asking the High Court to overturn rulings from a trial court and an appeals court that require the state to continue domestic partner benefits to Arizona’s state employees.

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office is representing Brewer in the push to reverse the rulings.

Lambda Legal has represented the employees defending the partnership benefits and will have until Aug. 6 to respond to the High Court.

The legal battle goes back to at least 2009, when Arizona lawmakers passed a law to strip gay and lesbian employees of domestic partnership benefits.

Lambda, on behalf of 10 employees, sued to block enforcement of the law and argued that if state officials strip domestic partner health benefits from lesbian and gay government workers, they violate the U.S. Constitution.

Lambda filed its suit in November 2009 and a district court judge issued a preliminary injunction in July 2010. A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld the injunction in September 2011 and a request from Arizona for a full panel review was denied in April.

This denial is what prompted Arizona to turn to the Supreme Court, which is on summer break.

A court has not offered a final decision on the case.

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