Saturday, February 25, 2012

Obama Defeats Marriage, Again - Congress Responds

In the case of a California lesbian denied spousal health benefits of her "wife" by her federal employer, wherein the Obama Administration filed a court brief in favor of benefits for the "married" couple, a federal district judge has ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and has ruled the federal employer to provide the disputed spousal benefits.

Congressional Republicans in the House have appealed the case (to the 9th Circuit appeals court) to defend DOMA.

For background, read Obama Pushes Court to Rule Against Marriage and also read Obama 'Throws Marriage Under the Bus' as well as White House Torpedoed Marriage from Start

UPDATE 5/31/12: Defense of Marriage Act heads to US Supreme Court

UPDATE 3/27/12: Obama wants 9th Circuit to speed up GOP appeal process

-- From "Gay spouse given health benefits in U.S. court case" by Dan Levine, Reuters 2/22/12

The ruling came from U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in San Francisco who was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush.

Congress passed DOMA in 1996 and President Bill Clinton signed it into law. It prevents same-sex couples who are legally married in a handful of states from enjoying more than 1,000 federal benefits awarded to heterosexual married couples.

Plaintiff Karen Golinski has worked as a staff attorney for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco for over 20 years.

She sued the U.S. government after it refused to enroll her spouse, Amy Cunninghis, on her federal family health insurance plan. The couple married during a five-month legal window in California before voters in 2008 passed Proposition 8, a gay marriage ban.

The DOMA case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is Karen Golinski vs. United States Office of Personnel Management and John Berry, 10-257.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Federal judge rules DOMA unconstitutional" UPI 2/23/12

White's ruling was the first since the Obama administration announced last year it no longer would defend the law, saying it considered it discriminatory and denied equal rights to gays and lesbians.

White ordered the Office of Personnel Management to enroll the wife of Karen Golinski, an attorney for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in the health benefits program available to other federal judiciary employees.

If White's ruling is appealed, it would go through the 9th Circuit, where Chief Judge Alex Kozinski said in administrative orders the federal government's refusal to provide benefits to Golinski's spouse violates her rights

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Defense of Marriage Act ruled unconstitutional by judge" by Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times 2/23/12

It was also a setback for the conservative-dominated Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, the U.S. House of Representatives panel that intervened to defend the statute after Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said the administration would no longer do so.

At a December hearing in White's San Francisco courtroom, lawyers for the five-member House panel argued that the Defense of Marriage Act was enacted to protect and nurture traditional opposite-sex marriage. They also submitted evidence of "some fluidity" in the commitment of homosexuals to that identity, urging the judge to reconsider 9th Circuit rulings that homosexuality is "a defining and immutable characteristic."

In his 43-page ruling, White said "tradition alone" doesn't justify legislation that targets a vulnerable social group.

"The obligation of the court is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code," White wrote. "The 'ancient lineage' of a classification does not render it legitimate."

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Defense of Marriage Act Held Unconstitutional" by Maria Dinzeo, Courthouse News Service 2/24/12

Cunninghis was Golinski's domestic partner for 13 years before they married in 2008, during the brief period when gay marriage was legalized in California by order of the California Supreme Court. The Office of Personnel Management claimed DOMA, which does not recognize same-sex marriage, precluded Cunninghis from receiving benefits as Golinski's wife.

"The passage of DOMA marks a stark departure from tradition and a blatant disregard of the well-accepted concept of federalism in the area of domestic relations," U.S. District Judge Jeffery White ruled. "In this matter, the court finds that DOMA, as applied to Ms. Golinski, violates her right to equal protection of the law under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution by, without substantial justification or rational basis, refusing to recognize her lawful marriage to prevent provision of health insurance coverage to her spouse."

White rejected arguments offered by the congressional group for DOMA's application to Golinski, including that DOMA protects the government's interest in promoting procreation through marriage. "To the extent Congress was interested merely in encouraging responsible procreation and child-rearing by opposite-sex married couples, a desire to encourage opposite-sex couples to procreate and raise their own children well would not provide a legitimate reason for denying federal recognition of same-sex marriages," White wrote. "Accordingly, the court finds that the first proffered reason for the passage of DOMA - to encourage responsible procreation and child-rearing - does not provide a justification that is substantially related to an important governmental objective."

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "House Republican group files appeal of DOMA ruling" posted at 2/24/12

A Republican-led House of Representatives group announced Friday it will appeal a decision in which a federal judge in San Francisco on Wednesday struck down the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act.

Friday, the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, led by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, filed a notice of appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

The advisory group is made up of the House of Representatives' three majority leaders and two minority leaders. The efforts to defend DOMA are supported by the group's three Republicans but not by its two Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "House GOP leaders to appeal latest Defense of Marriage Act ruling" by Jonathan Easley, The Hill 2/24/12

Democrats are not supporting the appeal. “The Democratic leader and the Democratic whip decline to support the filing of this notice of appeal,” the [House appeal] notice read.

Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder informed congressional leaders that the Justice Department would not defend a similar section of DOMA that prevents same-sex couples from receiving military benefits.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

Read also Bishops Say Obama Destroying Societal Norm