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High court rules state-employed same-sex couples no different than married couples

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Defying the clear will of Alaska's voters, who passed an amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, the state's supreme court ruled today that government employees in same-sex relationships are entitled to all the rights and benefits that are extended to married state workers.

"Alaska's voters came out resoundingly for marriage, and not just in name only, by a greater than two-to-one margin," said Glen Lavy, senior vice president of ADF's Marriage Litigation Center.  "Despite this, the state supreme court ruled that, for equal protection purposes, there is no difference between married couples and same-sex domestic partners."

The ruling extends protection to a class of couples, with no ruling on sexual orientation discrimination.  The court's novel approach is very different from federal equal protection analysis, which protects individuals, not couples.

"Granting benefits is fine as long as they are granted on an equitable basis," said Lavy.  "However, the Alaska Supreme Court has created a special, state-sanctioned status for the purpose of granting benefits to a preferred group of single employees without extending those benefits to other unmarried state employees."

Lavy explained that a risk of decisions like this is always possible unless state amendments include provisions that address marriage imitations.

"This terrible decision by the Alaska Supreme Court highlights the need for marriage protection amendments to go beyond simply defining marriage.  Marriage amendments must also include language prohibiting any counterfeit marriage status," Lavy said.

ADF-allied attorney Kevin Clarkson assisted in defense of the state statute at issue, and ADF provided funding for a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, American Civil Liberties Union v. State of Alaska.  The full text of the opinion can be read here.

For more information on the battle to protect marriage, visit www.domawatch.org.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family. 

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