Court to take up issue of same-sex benefits in Arizona

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February 11, 2011

"Carrie Sperling and Sue Shapcott moved here from Texas in 2007 knowing that Arizona wouldn't recognize their same-sex marriage, but at least they would qualify for domestic partner benefits available to state employees because of Sperling's job with Arizona State University.

"Then, in 2009, a budget-cutting measure signed by Gov. Jan Brewer narrowed coverage to employees' spouses and dependent children, effectively barring same-sex couples.

"Tara Borrelli, an attorney arguing the case for the couples and gay-rights organization Lambda Legal, said the case is the first to address same-sex benefits in federal court, but past state-court cases in Oregon, Alaska and Montana have upheld the right to equal access.

"'There's nothing new or novel about the rules the court is being asked to apply in this situation,' she said. 'This case is really a case ... on a really simple principle: the principle of equal pay for equal work.'"