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Supreme Court rejects Arizona governor’s effort to strip LGBT state worker benefits

WASHINGTON – After the landmark decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 on Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued orders today declining to review the remaining LGBT equality cases on its docket this term.

Most significantly, the Court dismissed Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s petition to overturn the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Brewer v. Diaz, in which that court concluded that Arizona violated the constitutional rights of LGBT Arizona state employees when it passed a law stripping them of their domestic partner benefits in 2009. Lambda Legal filed suit on behalf of ten state employees and their families.

“Yesterday’s victories at the Supreme Court thrilled LGBT people across the country, but it also reminded those living in many states of the inequality they and their families continue to face,” HRC president Chad Griffin said. “Today’s order brings Arizonans a step closer to enjoying the equality that all Americans deserve and that we are all committed to ensuring for everyone, everywhere. We congratulate Lambda Legal and their courageous plaintiffs in their successful fight against the callous discrimination of their elected officials.”

In light of its conclusion in Windsor v. United States that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, the Court also dismissed petitions for review in four other challenges to that law. In addition, the Court declined to accept early review of Sevcik v. Sandoval, a challenge to the constitutionality of Nevada’s constitutional amendment barring marriage for same-sex couples. That case, brought by Lambda Legal on behalf of Nevada same-sex couples in 2012, suffered a loss at the trial court level, but will now proceed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for review and may be before the Supreme Court again in the coming years.