ANCHORAGE -

The Alaska Supreme Court heard a case Tuesday in which the female partner of a woman killed three years ago is seeking employer benefits after her death, despite the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Deborah Harris and her partner of 14 years, Kerry Fadely, never considered the financial consequences if one of them passed on.

"We talked about it, but we never did it, life just got in the way -- and then there wasn't a life,” Harris said.

Prosecutors say Fadely was murdered by former employee Javier Martinez in a workplace shooting at the Millennium Alaskan Hotel in Spenard on Oct. 29, 2011.

Last June, a jury found Martinez guilty on federal charges related to the shooting of illegally possessing a gun and making false claims of U.S. citizenship. Martinez, who received the maximum 65-year sentence in the federal case, still faces a state charge of first-degree murder in Fadely’s death.

The financial fallout from Fadely’s murder caused Harris to lose her home, since she was unable to collect Fadely's death benefits.

"I work on the slopes for three weeks because housing is included, and the other three weeks I stay with my children still," Harris said.

Harris sued to receive her partner's survivor benefits, and on Tuesday Alaska Supreme Court justices heard the case for the first time.

Attorneys for the insurance company representing the hotel are optimistic their client will prevail, based on a previous case involving a non-married couple.

"In that case, the survivor of an opposite-sex couple sought death benefits under the Worker's Compensation Act,” said attorney Don Thomas. “The statute says to get those benefits, primarily, you have to be married,”

Thomas says his client wishes Harris had approached hotel management about the dispute before taking the legal route.

Harris says she would have married Fadely if not for the state's ban on same-sex marriage, passed by voters in 1998.

"I think Alaska has a great opportunity to be on the right side of history,” she told reporters Tuesday.

There’s no word on when justices may rule on the case.