Lambda Legal Argues before Court to Block Elimination of Domestic Partner Benefits for Gay and Lesbian State Employees
(Phoenix, Arizona, June 28, 2010) — Lambda Legal today presented oral arguments in U.S. District Court in Phoenix to block a law stripping domestic partner benefits from gay and lesbian state employees. Arizona lawmakers included a provision eliminating domestic partner health benefits for gay state employees as part of a last-minute budget deal signed by Governor Jan Brewer last September, while retaining spousal health benefits for heterosexual workers.
Lambda Legal represents ten state employees – including from the Arizona Highway Patrol, the State Department of Game and Fish, and state universities – who rely on health benefits from their employers to safeguard their families' health, as heterosexual workers do.
"Our clients got a fair hearing today," said Tara Borelli, the Lambda Legal staff attorney who argued the case before Judge John W. Sedwick. "Judge Sedwick zeroed in on the heart of the case when he asked the attorney for the state how it promotes the state's interest in marriage to deny insurance to gay employees who are not allowed to marry. The state's attorney had no good answer."
Arizona Highway Patrol Officer Tracy Collins is lead plaintiff and relies on her work-provided health benefits to protect her partner of 11 years, Diana Forrest, and their family. "For me it's about equal pay for equal work," Collins said. "I do a dangerous job, protecting the people of Arizona. I'm only asking for the same benefits my heterosexual colleagues receive."
Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Tara Borelli argued the case, with Jennifer C. Pizer of Lambda Legal, and Daniel C. Barr and Rhonda L. Barnes of the law firm of Perkins, Coie, Brown and Baine as co-counsel. The case is Collins v. Brewer.
Contact: Tom Warnke; 213-382-7600 ex 247;[email protected]
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.