Jan Brewer

Supreme Court Won't Hear Jan Brewer's Fight to Keep Gay Couples From Getting Benefits

Governor Jan Brewer's fight to keep the partners of gay state employees from getting benefits is a losing battle for the governor, so far.

The day after the Supreme Court made its decision to strike down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, the court decided to not review Brewer's fight to implement the law, which denies benefits to "domestic partners."

See also:
Arizona Gay-Marriage Proponents Trying to Get Issue on 2014 Ballot: "It's Go Time"

Brewer has always insisted that the law was based "solely out of financial need" and wasn't discriminatory. Brewer signed the budget cutting benefits for domestic partners in 2009, just one year they were put into place in a budget from then-Governor Janet Napolitano.

In a statement, Brewer frames it as a law that axes "domestic-partner benefits for State employees of every sexual orientation," although you'll realize that straight couples can get married in the state, while gay couples do not have that right. If you check out the eligibility requirements for benefits from the state, they're actually pretty stringent.

According to SCOTUSblog:

The Ninth Circuit Court barred enforcement of that law, and the state had appealed, arguing that its law was actually neutral, and thus should satisfy constitutional demands for legal equality.
Again, the Supreme Court's decision not to review the case means the injunction stays in place, keeping the state from enforcing its law for the time being.

Lambda Legal, the organization representing gay state employees in the lawsuit, Brewer v. Diaz -- which includes gay university employees, and game and fish department workers -- still needs to get a victory at the trial court to get a permanent injunction against the law.

From Lambda Legal:
"Lesbian and gay employees of the state of Arizona can now rest assured that their vital family health insurance will not be stripped away while they fight the State's discriminatory effort to eliminate that coverage," said Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Tara Borelli. "With the preliminary injunction now left in place, we can proceed to the resolution of the case."

"Arizona has tried everything it can to eliminate this coverage," Borelli said, "but it has no more cards to play in this round. It's time to go back to the trial court so that we can get a final ruling to assure these employees that they will not be denied the equal pay for equal work they deserve."
In Brewer's statement, she claims this case has "never been about domestic partners, same-sex or otherwise."

"It is always been about the authority of elected State officials to make decisions with which we have been entrusted by the voters," she says. "I'm disappointed the High Court has eroded that authority with its decision today."

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.