Federal judge orders health benefits for same-sex spouse of federal employee

Federal judge orders health benefits for same-sex spouse of federal employee

[JURIST] A judge for the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] on Thursday ordered [text, PDF] the director of the Administrative Office of the US Courts (AO) [official website] to provide health benefits to the same-sex spouse of a federal employee. Karen Golinski, the federal court employee who sued for the benefits, was married in California during the six-month period during which same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] licenses were granted under state law. The director of the AO, Jim Duff, refused to certify Golinski's eligibility for the benefits to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) [official website], citing the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text], which prohibits federal recognition of gay and lesbian families. Judge Alex Kozinski rejected that argument, finding that the Federal Employee Health Benefits Act "permit[s] the coverage of same-sex spouses."

A similar order [JURIST report] was issued by the Ninth Circuit Wednesday, when a judge ordered the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California [official website] to compensate a gay man denied benefits for his male spouse. Also this week, New York's highest court ruled that same-sex spouses of state employees married in other states are entitled to benefits [JURIST report].