SCOTUS won't hear Arizona partner benefits case

December 10, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its last orders of the year on Monday. As KJZZ’s Al Macias reports, Arizona’s attempt to block the state from cutting off benefits to partners of gay state employees will not be considered.  

The court agreed to hear two other cases last week dealing with the issues of gay rights. One is a California case and the other is the federal Defense of Marriage Act. At issue is whether the federal government can deny tax benefits offered to married couples to gays who marry in states where gay marriage is legal.

The Arizona case is not being considered in the court’s spring term. Tara Borelli is with Lambda Legal which sued the state. She told Capitol Media Services that non-decision is important for gay state employees.

"Given that the Supreme Court didn't issue any order in any direction in Diaz, we believe that they will hold the case until they have issued a decision in the Proposition 8 case and the DOMA case that they accepted for review. And that is anticipated to be sometime in June of 2013," Borelli said.

Borelli said once the other cases are decided the justices could send the Arizona case back to lower courts to consider the issue in light of their action. In the meantime, a rule change  expanding the definition of legal dependent to include same sex partners remains in effect. The rule was approved in 2008 by then-Gov. Janet Napolitano There are currently more than 200 state and university employees affected at a cost of close to $1.9 million a year.

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