Arizona Group Files Lawsuit Over Domestic Benefits Plan

Arizona Group Files Lawsuit Over Domestic Benefits Plan

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A second lawsuit has been filed over a mayoral executive order to provide health benefits to the domestic partners -- homosexual or heterosexual -- of unmarried city employees.

On Thursday, the Alliance Defense Fund asked Utah's 3rd District Court to declare Mayor Rocky Anderson's order illegal and prevent the city from providing insurance benefits to employees' domestic partners.

Chris Stovall, an attorney for the Arizona-based group, said Anderson violated Utah's law and constitutional amendment, both of which define marriage as between a man and a woman.

The lawsuit contends the city is establishing an "imitation marriage" by providing benefits to domestic partners and by defining domestic partners in city policy.

"It's very clear in the press and his statements regarding the reason he signed the executive order (that Anderson) believes same-sex couples should have a right to marriage," Stovall said. "This is one way he can attempt to promote that viewpoint."

The Utah Employees Health Program also filed a lawsuit this week in 3rd District Court, but it centers on whether domestic partner benefits are legal under state law.

Anderson had hoped the benefits would kick in Nov. 1 but must wait for the court to rule. He said the order is not an attempt to sidestep state law.

It is a "way of providing equal benefits to people regardless of sex orientation or marital status," Anderson said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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