Season Preview: Lesbian and Gay Rights at the Supreme Court—Part 3

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September 19, 2012

This is the final installment in a three-part series. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Equal Benefits for Arizona State Employees

In Diaz v. Brewer, Lambda Legal represents seven lesbian and gay state employees—including from state universities and the State Department of Game and Fish—who are challenging a move by the Arizona Legislature to eliminate the equal health care benefits that those employees rely on to safeguard their families' health—just as their heterosexual colleagues do.

The equal health coverage plan had been put in place in 2008, but Arizona lawmakers subsequently eliminated it for domestic partners—including those of lesbian and gay state employees—while retaining spousal benefits for heterosexual workers in a budget deal signed by Gov. Jan Brewer in 2009.

This case is about equal pay for equal work and protecting medical benefits for the same-sex domestic partners of state employees. The federal district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have already ruled that we are likely to prevail on the argument that selectively taking away the ability to obtain this family health coverage would violate the rights of these employees. Governor Brewer and other state officials have now appealed these losses to the U.S. Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court declines to hear this case, then the injunction that currently protects state employees from losing the benefits will remain while Lambda Legal continues to fight in the lower courts to permanently reverse the discriminatory withdrawal of benefits. If the Supreme Court agrees to hear this case, then we will be ready to defend the lower court decisions—and the workers and their families—at the high court.

Announcements Coming Soon

The Supreme Court meets in conference throughout the fall to decide which cases it will accept for review and its decisions are announced on its website soon after they are made. For example, decisions may be announced about some of these cases as soon as September 25, or on other key dates throughout October and November. Stay tuned to Lambda Legal, and we will announce the news about these cases as soon as it’s available.