On November 17, 2009, several lesbian and gay employees of the State of Arizona, each of whom was receiving family coverage for his or her committed same-sex life partner, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona against the State of Arizona. Plaintiffs, represented by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and by private counsel, brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Section 38-651(O) of the Arizona Revised Statutes ("Section O") violated the United States Constitution. Specifically, plaintiffs claimed that Section O, which eliminated family health insurance coverage for non-spouse domestic partners, violated the equal protection and substantive due process guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment because precluded same-sex domestic partners but not opposite-sex domestic partners from obtaining coverage. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief.
On January 25, 2010, the State moved to dismiss the case, and on April 1, plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction. On July 23, 2010, the District Court (Judge John W. Sedwick) addressed both motions in one order, granting the State's motion to dismiss as to the plaintiffs' due process claim but otherwise denying it, and granting plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction. Collins v. Brewer
, 727 F. Supp. 2d 797 (D. Ariz. 2010). The Court found that plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their equal protection claim, as the denial of benefits to employees with same-sex domestic partners was not rationally related to the State's interests in cost control, administrative efficiency, and the promotion of marriage; it therefore enjoined the State from enforcing Section O and ordered it to make family health insurance coverage available to employees with same-sex partners.
The State appealed, and the District Court stayed proceedings pending the decision of the Court of Appeals. On September 6, 2011, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit (Circuit Judges Mary M. Schroeder and Sidney R. Thomas and District Judge Mark W. Bennet of the Northern District of Iowa, sitting by appointment) affirmed. Diaz v. Brewer
, 656 F.3d 1008 (9th Cir. 2011). In an opinion by Judge Schroeder, the panel held that the District Court had correctly applied the rational basis test, and that while state employees have no constitutional right to benefits, "when a state chooses to provide such benefits, it may not do so in an arbitrary or discriminatory manner that adversely affects particular groups that may be unpopular." Id.
The State filed a petition for panel rehearing and a petition for rehearing en banc, both of which the Ninth Circuit denied on April 3, 2012. Diaz v. Brewer
, 676 F.3d 823 (9th Cir. 2012). Judge Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain, joined by Judge Carlos T. Bea, dissented, arguing that there was no evidence that the Arizona legislature passed Section O with discriminatory intent and that the District Court had misapplied the rational basis test. He also noted that the District Court and panel's holding that opposite-sex-only marriage
rules serve no rational purpose may be dispositive in challenges to state laws refusing to recognize same-sex marriage.
On July 2, 2012, the State filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court, and the District Court again stayed its proceedings pending the petition's resolution.
On June 27, 2013, the Supreme Court denied certiorari on the same day it issued its decisions in Windsor (PB-NY-0017
in this Clearinghouse) and Hollingsworth
. The court ordered the case to proceed with discovery and indicated complaints should be amended to reflect the effect of the Supreme Court's decisions. Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on September 9, 2013. The Court granted class action status on December 23, 2013. The class included all same-sex partners who are now or will in the future be eligible for partner health insurance benefits Ariz. Admin. Code § R2-5-10.
On September 30, 2014, the Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, and on October 1, 2014, the Defendants did the same. However, on October 31, 2014, before the Court ruled on those motions, the Plaintiffs and Defendants entered a Joint Motion seeking to dissolve the preliminary injunction and dismiss the case. On November 6, 2014, the Court granted the motion, dissolving the preliminary injunction on midnight of December 31, 2014 and dismissing the case.
The Joint Motion was filed based on the Plaintiffs' belief that, following the decisions in Connolly v. Brewer (PB-AZ-0003
in this Clearinghouse) and Majors v. Jeanes (PB-AZ-0004
in this Clearinghouse) and the Attorney General of the State's announcement that those decisions would not be appealed, same-sex couples' right to marry in Arizona would not be challenged and so the preliminary injunction in this case was moot.
On November 20, 2014, the Plaintiffs filed a motion to vacate the previous order dissolving the preliminary injunction and dismissing the case, due to the November 17, 2014 appeals of Connolly v. Brewer and Majors v. Jeanes by the Attorney General that could potentially result in the dissolution of the Connolly and Jeanes permanent injunctions.
On December 10, 2014, the Court denied the Plaintiffs' motion and on January 13, 2015, the preliminary injunction was dissolved and the case closed in regards to all matters except ongoing litigation over attorney's fees.Christopher Schad - 12/07/2012
Chris MacColl - 02/24/2014
Claire Lally - 02/02/2015