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State to defend benefit cuts to gay partners

State attorneys return to federal court today to defend the Legislature’s decision to deny health benefits to gay partners of state employees.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of 10 state employees in November 2009 argued the law discriminates against gays and lesbians.

U.S. District Judge John Sedwick agreed last July and temporarily prevented the benefit cut for same-sex couples.

The judge said the law violated the U.S. Constitution’s equal-protection clause by making it impossible for homosexuals to get health coverage for their partners.

The Arizona Republic reports benefits to 480 same-sex partners and about 60 children would be cut off if the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifts the injunction.

A three-judge panel in San Francisco hears arguments today.

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