An appeals court has upheld a lower
court's ruling that blocked Arizona from ending health benefits for
gay and lesbian state employees, CourtHouseNews.com
Last year, U.S. District Judge John
Sedwick issued an injunction that prevented the state from
implementing a law that would have cut benefits to the domestic
partners of gay state employees and the children of those partners.
The legislation approved by lawmakers
and signed by Republican Governor Jan Brewer eliminated health
benefits to the spouses of domestic partners – gay or straight.
The move adversely affects gay couples, who cannot legally marry in
Lawyers representing the state argued
that the measure was needed to cut a ballooning deficit. Neither
Judge Sedwick nor the three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit
Court of Appeals found the argument very convincing.
“Of particular significance to the
district court was the fact that while the plaintiffs produced expert
analysis on the impact of the law on the state's expenditures and
found it minimal, the court was not provided any evidence of the
actual amount of benefits the state paid for same sex partners,”
Judge Mary Schroeder wrote for the appeals court. “Defendants
nevertheless contend on appeal that this law is rationally related to
the state's interests in cost savings and reducing administrative
burdens. As the district court observed, however, the savings depend
upon distinguishing between homosexual and heterosexual employees,
similarly situated, and such a distinction cannot survive rational
The state had also argued on appeal
that employees do not have a constitutional right to health care.
The court agreed, then added: “[W]hen a state chooses to provide
such benefits, it may not do so in an arbitrary or discriminatory
manner that adversely affects particular groups that may be