Monday, November 15, 2010

Another DOMA related case

There's another couple of cases we've talked about previously, that come from employment hearing of (ironically) the 9th circuit court (background here). Two same sex court employees asks for equal employment benefits, and the court employment tribunals agree. One judge says that one employee should get extra compensation to cover for the loss of benefits. The other judge says, just provide the darn benefits. But the Obama Administration is blocking the provision of those benefits, and Lambda Legal is on the case.
Karen Golinski is an employee of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. She is suing the Obama administration’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and its openly gay Director, John Berry, to secure spousal health insurance benefits for her wife, Amy Cunninghis – the same benefits afforded spouses of the court’s heterosexual employees

Earlier this year, Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski agreed with Lambda that refusing Golinski those benefits for her spouse violate the court’s own employment discrimination policy. He ordered Blue Cross/Blue Shield to enroll Cunninghis in the court’s plan. But OPM told Blue Cross/Blue Shield not to. Lambda is seeking an injunction against OPM – again, a department run by an openly gay man – to stop interfering with Kozinski’s orders.

Lambda says the brief filed yesterday is in response to questions raised Oct. 15th by federal District Judge Jeffrey S. White. Among the questions he asked was whether DOMA violates the U.S. Constitution. Lambda told White that he doesn’t have to decide the whole enchilada – whether DOMA itself is unconstitutional – only that Golinski’s case shows that DOMA’s application in blocking equal employment benefits is unconstitutional. The brief explains that DOMA is discriminatory because of “congressional disapproval” of how same sex couples exercise their fundamental rights of intimacy and marriage.

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