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Federal judge strikes down provision of Defense of Marriage Act

A federal judge ruled [order, PDF] on Thursday that California's state pension system must afford same-sex spouses of state workers the same access to long-term care insurance as heterosexual spouses. Judge Claudia Wilken of the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] struck down a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text; JURIST news archive], declaring that the provision unconstitutionally prevented same-sex couples from getting equal pension benefits. Wilken declared [Mercury News report] that the DOMA provision denying same-sex spouses equal federal benefits was not rationally related to a legitimate government purpose. Wilken's ruling mirrors a holding in another Northern Distict of California case in February by Judge Jeffrey White that struck down DOMA as unconstitutional [JURIST report]. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] is scheduled to hear an appeal of that ruling in September.

Governments across the globe have struggled to define rights for same-sex couples. Last week, the city of Buenos Aires passed a resolution [JURIST report] recognizing same-sex marriages for non-citizens. Two weeks ago, the Israeli Knesset [official website] rejected a bill [JURIST report] that would have legalized civil marriages in the country. Earlier that week Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee signed an executive order [JURIST report] requiring government agencies to recognize same-sex marriages performed out-of-state. Earlier this month, voters in North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage [JURIST report]. In March, Israel's Ramat Gan Family Court ruled that a lesbian couple can both be recognized as mothers of a child they had together, finding that it would defy logic and common sense to deny parental rights to both women.

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