Gay state workers want Supreme Court to deny Jan Brewer’s bid to slash partner benefits


By Howard Fischer

Capitol Media Services

The University of Arizona does not provide benefits to Chris Mathias {left} and Joanna Arnold, who are shown with their son, Cole.Attorneys representing some gay state and university workers said the U.S. Supreme Court should spurn as “unworthy” a bid by Gov. Jan Brewer to let her immediately slash domestic partner benefits.

In legal papers filed Monday, attorney Lisa Borelli told the justices there is no reason for them to get involved in the contentious case, at least at this point.

Borelli pointed out that the only issue before the court is whether the state must continue to provide the benefits while the legality of the decision to halt benefits makes its way through the courts. She also pointed out that neither side has even done the preliminary work on the lawsuit.

And Borelli, staff counsel for the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, said attorneys for the state have not even shown the Supreme Court the actual cost of maintaining the coverage while the case proceeds for a “small number” of workers involved.

The most recent figures from the state Department of Administration show there are 230 active state and university employees and three retirees who have same-sex domestic partner medical coverage. Agency spokesman Alan Ecker pegged the cost of claims for the partners and their dependents at $1.88 million a year.

Arizona has long provided provides various benefits to the dependents of its state and university employees. Until 2008, however, that did not include the domestic partners of its unmarried workers.


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