- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 29, 2005

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Supreme Court yesterday ruled it is unconstitutional to bar benefits to the same-sex partners of public employees, a victory for homosexual rights advocates in one of the first states to pass a constitutional ban on same-sex “marriage.”

Overturning a lower court ruling, the state high court said barring benefits for state and city employees’ same-sex partners violates the Alaska Constitution’s equal protection clause.

“It’s a good day for Alaska families,” said Carrie Evans, state legislative director for the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign.

She said the decision sets the stage for Alaska to join 11 other states that already have laws, policies or union contracts providing employee benefits in all eligible same-sex unions.

Anchorage City Attorney Fred Boness said officials would not appeal the court’s decision.

“We’re disappointed that we lost, and I think it means we’re going to have to provide those benefits in the future to qualifying same-sex couples,” Mr. Boness said.

A message left at the Alaska attorney general’s office was not returned.

Nine homosexual government workers and their partners in 2002 joined the Alaska American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in appealing a lower court ruling in a 1999 lawsuit filed against the state and the Municipality of Anchorage after voters passed a constitutional amendment blocking state recognition of same-sex “marriage.”

In the 2001 Superior Court ruling overturned yesterday, Judge Stephanie Joannides said the state and city did not have to extend benefits to same-sex couples, equating them with unmarried heterosexual couples who also are not eligible.

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