Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit earlier this week against the state of Arizona in response to the state’s decision to eliminate domestic partner benefits for state employees. According to the press release issued by Lambda Legal:
Arizona lawmakers included a provision stripping domestic partner health benefits from state employees as part of a last-minute budget deal signed by Governor Jan Brewer in September, while retaining spousal health benefits for heterosexual workers . . .
“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.”
I was really surprised to see a favorable editorial in the the state’s largest newspaper, the Arizona Republic, which typically leans pretty conservative. The editorial cited several examples of state employees who are being discriminated against under the new guidelines and concluded by saying:
The most frequently cited reason for offering domestic-partner benefits in state government is to keep up with the private sector in order help Arizona retain its best employees.
That’s the practical reason, anyway. The better reason. The simple, obvious reason that somehow eludes our politicians is: Because it’s right.
I couldn’t agree more. People who work hard are entitled to equal benefits. Period. This would all be a moot point, of course, if we had universal health care in this country. But that’s another issue entirely.