Friday, January 21, 2011

And another DOMA case comes into view

From the SF Chronicle:
In a victory for gay rights advocates, a federal judge has ruled that state employees in California can sue for discrimination over the federal government's exclusion of their same-sex spouses from a long-term health care program.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken of Oakland denied an Obama administration request to dismiss the suit Tuesday and signaled that she is likely to overturn provisions of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples....

... Wilken said the 1996 law actually changed the status quo by "robbing states of the power to allow same-sex civil marriages that will be recognized under federal law."

She also rejected arguments that the law's sponsors put forth in 1996, that the legislation was necessary to promote procreation and preserve heterosexual marriage.

"Marriage has never been contingent on having children," Wilken said, and denying federal benefits to same-sex couples "does not encourage heterosexual marriage."

She said sponsors' "moral rejection of homosexuality" had been obvious in congressional debate. The U.S. Supreme Court has found that bias against gays is an unconstitutional justification for passing a law, Wilken noted.


The couples sued in April over the California Public Employees' Retirement System's refusal to enroll the spouses in a federally approved long-term care plan. ...

The California agency has refused to sign up same-sex spouses because the Defense of Marriage Act denies federal tax benefits to any state that covers them.
. THe case is Dragovich v. U.S. Dept of the Treasury. More background here, telling us
CalPERS’ plan allows members to enroll their parents, in-laws, siblings, and opposite-sex spouses. Same-sex partners may not apply.
So you can cover your brother in law but not your spouse.

So, I think that makes 4 or 5 DOMA cases percolating right now at various stages. Legally married same sex couples: equal rights under the law, or not?

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