Sarah Palin said the state will abide by an Alaska
supreme court order to provide benefits to same-sex partners
of state employees as of January 1. Palin's decision
came one day after the Alaska supreme court told the
state to stop dragging its feet and implement
domestic-partner benefits, which were first ordered 14
"We believe we have no more judicial options,"
Palin said but added that she still wants voters in a
special April election to consider the prospect of a
constitutional amendment designed to prohibit such
benefits. She signed into law a bill passed by state
lawmakers in a November special session calling for
voters to weigh in.
Voters will be asked if the legislature should
adopt a proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit
the state or municipalities from providing these
benefits. If there is overwhelming support, then
legislators could pass a resolution with two-thirds support
that would go before voters in the 2008 general election.
The pending implementation is a long time
coming, says Carrie Evans, state legislative director
for Washington, D.C.-based gay rights group
Human Rights Campaign. "We haven't seen that kind of
defiance by the governor and legislature of a high
court ruling; it's extraordinary," Evans said. "Some
states just grumble. What we saw was Alaska digging in
its heels." Alaska will become the 14th U.S. state that has
a law, policy, or court decision that provides these
benefits, according to the organization.
For now, this ends a six year-battle for the
American Civil Liberties Union and nine couples who
filed a lawsuit challenging the lack of benefits for
same-sex couples employed by the state and the municipality
of Anchorage. The high court ruled in October 2005 that
denying benefits to same-sex domestic partners
violated the state's guarantee of equal protection for
all Alaskans. (Steve Quinn, AP)
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