The Court finds that DOMA, as applied to Ms. Golinski, unconstitutional, – as applied to Ms. Golinski under the equal protection rule.
by Melanie Nathan, February 22, 2012
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White, a federal judge ruled today in San Francisco, in favor of lesbian Karen Golinski. The U.S. government cannot deny health benefits to the wife of a lesbian court employee by relying on DOMA, the 1996 legislation, signed into by President Bill Clinton, that says marriages can only be recognized if between a man and a woman.
In a 43-page decision that marks the third time in less than two years a federal court has declared DOMA unconstitutional, the Judge wrote: The Court finds that DOMA, as applied to Ms. Golinski, violates her right to equal protection of the law, without substantial justification or rational basis, refusing to recognize her lawful marriage to prevent provision of health insurance coverage to her spouse,”
Golinski, a staff lawyer for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, has been trying to secure spousal benefits for her wife, Amy Cunninghis, since shortly after the couple got married during the brief window in 2008 when same-sex marriages were legal in California. Her boss, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, approved her request, but the Office of Personnel Management ordered Golinski’s insurer not to process her application.
After Golinski sued, the Department of Justice originally opposed her in court, but changed course last year after President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder said they would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act.
White’s decision “acknowledges that DOMA violates the Constitution and that my marriage to Amy is equal to those marriages of my heterosexual colleagues,” Golinski said. “This decision is a huge step toward equality.”
In ordering the government to allow Golinski to enroll her wife in a family health plan, White rejected all of the arguments the House group advanced in defense of DOMA, such as that it was necessary to foster stable unions among men and women and for Congress to act slowly on an issue on which the public remains divided.
Speaker Boehner had made an attempt to fight the case via the House of Representatives by having the HOUSE hire its own lawyers to represent the so called “Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group” (BLAG) causing a stir amongst the LGBT community and tax payers that resources were being wasted by Boehner. We assert that Speaker Boehner did not have authority to convene BLAG to speak for Congress in a matter of this nature. The lawyers were hired by BLAG because Boehner was not happy that the Obama administration chose to, in effect, support Ms. Golinski’s quest for benefits.
Perhaps the tax payers should sue Boehner and BLAG for our money back based on the frivolity and abuse of Speaker’s power in trying to overstate the HOUSE’s part in matters where the Administration has a right to defend or not to defend cases.