Friday, December 17, 2010

New DOMA case: arguments begin today.

On Friday, a new DOMA case began: Golinski v OPM. I've told you previously about the ongoing effort of Karen Golinski, an employee of the Ninth Circuit court of appeals, to get medical coverage for her wife. (The Ninth Circuit is hearing the Prop8 appeal.)

Chief Judge Kozinski, who heard her employee grievance, agreed, because the Ninth does not allow discrimination on the basis of orientation. But the Office of Personnel Management refused to comply because of DOMA. (It's a great irony that OPM is headed by John Berry, the highest ranking gay appointed by President Obama.)

Now, Ms Golinski is suing OPM in US District Court. The Advocate reports,
Part of Lambda's argument against OPM in this case is that DOMA is unconstitutional, specifically because it discriminates based on sex and sexual orientation and it infringes on the right to privacy. Lambda is arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which in 2003 overturned laws against sodomy, set a precedent for the federal government respecting one's familial relationships.

Lambda Legal also plans to tell district court judge Jeffrey White that he need not find DOMA unconstitutional to rule that Golinski's spouse is entitled to health insurance. "OPM, under the authority of President Obama, is part of the Executive Branch of the federal government, and lacks authority to override internal personnel decisions made by the Judicial Branch as it works to end discrimination against lesbian and gay court employees," says a press release from Lambda Legal.
It's worth reminding you that OPM itself has already been sued twice on DOMA (other entities are also defending DOMA suits). First in Gill v OPM. In this case, a legally married Massachusetts resident sued for a federal work benefit for her wife. Federal Judge Joseph Tauro found that the clause of DOMA that prevents federal recognition of legal same sex marriages was unconstitutional. Obama's Department of Justice is appealing the ruling. (The appeal is necessary if it is to extend beyond Massachusetts--it has to get into the Circuit courts of appeal and up to the SCOTUS).

The second case, currently pending, is Pederson v OPM, which challenges state and private entities that rely on DOMA to deny benefits to married same sex couples.

Now we can add Golinski v. OPM. As always, I will follow these at Gay Married Californian.

Picture from the Advocate


JCF said...

Minor comment---

"Golinski, an employee of the Ninth Circuit court...Chief Judge Kokzinski": I bet I'm not the only one who did a double-take? ;-/

IT said...

Yes, Judge Kozinski heard the grievance by Ms Golinski.

I just report 'em.

JCF said...

Not that this would be news, if it were in Poland! ;-p [Well it would be, but for an entirely different reason {sadly contemplates EPIC levels of homophobia, in Eastern Europe}]