Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Golinski DOMA challenge: setback, or new chance?

Karen Golinski, an employee of the 9th Circuit Federal COurt, has been trying to get spousal benefits for her legal wife. The latest is a setback. The SFGate tells us,
A...Karen Golinski, won a ruling in 2009 from another judge, Alex Kozinski of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where Golinski has worked for nearly two decades.

Kozinski, acting as administrator of the court's benefits system, said its coverage extends to all employees' legally married spouses, including Amy Cunninghis, whom Golinski wed in 2008 before California voters banned same-sex marriage.

But the Obama administration's Office of Personnel Management refused to comply, saying it was bound by the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law denying federal benefits to same-sex couples....

Golinski sued the government to enforce Kozinski's order, but U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White of San Francisco ruled against her Wednesday. White said Kozinski was not acting as a judge and had no power to overrule the government's personnel office, which oversees health care for federal employees.

White, an appointee of President George W. Bush, said the Defense of Marriage Act includes a requirement to "unfairly restrict benefits." But he said he was ruling only on a question of judicial authority and not on the constitutionality of the law.

He gave Golinski until April 15 to recast her suit in a way that might overcome the procedural obstacles. Her lawyer, Jenny Pizer of the gay rights group Lambda Legal, said she would refile the case as a challenge to the 1996 law.

"This may, in the long run, enable Karen and Amy to have equal treatment sooner and hold onto it when they get it," Pizer said.


JCF said...

Didja hear about the immigration case which just broke?

Bi-national MARRIED (Connecticut) lesbian couple can file for spousal residency! :-)

IT said...

Thanks JCF. I'll pick that up shortly.