Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Tucson today to block a move to strip gay and lesbian state employees of domestic partner benefits.
"This is an issue of equal pay for equal work," said Tara Borelli, staff attorney for Lambda Legal. "By stripping away these vital benefits from loyal state employees, the state isn't just paying them less for the same work than their heterosexual colleagues - it's pulling away a vital lifeline that all workers need. This is simply cruel and saves the state next to nothing."
Lambda Legal represents 10 state employees - including from the Arizona Highway Patrol, the State Department of Game and Fish and state universities - who rely on health benefits from their employers to keep their families safe.
Arizona's domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian public employees were adopted in the fall of 2008 under the leadership of former Governor Janet Napolitano, who left in January 2009 to become Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. This summer Arizona legislators approved a budget bill with a provision revoking the benefits while retaining the comparable health benefits for heterosexual public workers. Current Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed it.
If Lambda is taking this up, then there's a good chance that "Brouhaha Brewer" and the GOoPers in the AZ Legislature violated the law by throwing LGBT public employees under the bus and stripping away their DP benefits while leaving hetero marriage benefits in place. Let's hope Collins v. Brewer succeeds in federal court and sets a much-needed historic precedent in protecting DP benefits at work.