Ninth Circuit Rules DOMA Unfairly Denies Same-Sex Spousal Benefits
By: Teddy Partridge
Thursday February 5, 2009 12:17 pm
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals just ordered Federal Health Insurance Benefits for same sex married couples. The LA Observer reported today that the ruling by Judge Stephen Reinhardt says the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally denies benefits to gay federal employees' spouses.
The ruling filed under the Order, Employment Dispute Resolution Plan for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals says:
"The denial of federal benefits to same-sex spouses cannot be justified simply by a distaste for or disapproval of same-sex marriage or a desire to deprive same-sex spouses benefits available to other spouses in order to discourage exercising a legal right afforded them by the state,"
Reinhardt wrote in his Feb. 2 order....
Both orders are internal employee grievance decisions. Both found in favor of the gay employees, directing court administrators to give health insurance benefits to their spouses. The orders also represent direct challenges to DOMA, the 1996 act that forbids the federal government from treating same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose.
A lawyer for the staff attorney said this is believed to be the first time federal employees will get benefits covering a same-sex spouse.