Arizona Seeks to Block Same-Sex Partner Benefits

By Paul Elias | February 14, 2011 | 5:54 PM EST

San Francisco (AP) - Lawyers representing Arizona's attempt to cut off benefits to same-sex partners of its state workers faced skepticism from one of the three federal appeals court judges considering the issue.

The state argued its case Monday before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, citing budgetary concerns as a compelling reason why it denied benefits to an estimated 300 partners.

Judge Sidney Thomas said it appears Arizona put same-sex partners in a "bad situation" when the Legislature passed the law revoking the benefits that same-sex couples had been receiving since 2008. A judge overturned the law last summer, and the state appealed.

But Thomas told Arizona's lawyer, Charles Grube, that those who lost the benefits would be hard-pressed finding insurance coverage elsewhere and wondered if that would be unconstitutionally "irreparable harm."