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Court Allows Class Action Suit In Gay State Workers Case

Lesbian and gay employees of the state of Arizona are now part of a class-action lawsuit over whether their domestic partners are eligible for health benefits.

In 2009, Gov.Jan Brewer signed a law reversing an earlier decision to extend benefits to the partners of state workers. Brewer’s decision was put on hold by a judge. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, sending it to a full trial.

Lawyers representing a handful of gay and lesbian state employees filed for class certification last week. Monday, a federal judge granted that motion, creating a class that covers state employees who are or will be eligible to carry their same-sex partners and partners’ dependents on their health plans.

"When the courts looked at the preliminary injunction, which was the order that kept the benefits in place, the courts had to decide whether the plaintiffs were likely to win their case," said attorney Tara Borelli with Lambda Legal. "And every court had said so far that, in fact, they believe that’s true."

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a statement earlier this year, Brewer said her decision was not about discrimination but fiscal prudence.

Nick Blumberg was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2010 to 2014.