AK Seeks High Court Review of Same-Sex Benefit Proposal

November 3, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The state of Alaska is asking its high court to decide if it must amend proposed regulations providing benefits for same-sex domestic partners of state employees and retirees.

The Associated Press reports that a Superior Court ordered the state to revise its proposal, claiming the proposed regulations are too restrictive and require same-sex couples to meet criteria that married couples do not have to meet. The Superior Court ordered the state to remove a relationship exclusivity requirement and shorten from 12 months to six months the requirement that same-sex couples be in a long-term relationship.

In addition, the court ordered that the regulations allow same-sex partners jointly responsible for a child to use that to qualify for benefits, according to the AP. It also ordered the regulations allow same-sex partners to take leave if the state employee became disabled or died, and directed death benefits to same-sex partners in cases where state employees failed to designate a beneficiary.

The Alaska Supreme Court ruled in October 2005 that state and municipal governments must provide benefits to same-sex partners of their employees (See Alaskan Same-Sex Partners Due Benefits ). The state’s deadline for providing the benefits is January 1, 2007.

Alaska Attorney General David Marquez defended the proposed regulations presented by the state since the Supreme Court decision and described the Superior Court order as “inappropriate,” the AP said. The state is asking that the order be stayed pending a review by the Supreme Court.