On July 3, the Department of Justice asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider Lambda Legal’s case, Golinski v. OPM, challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). “This development highlights the desire by all, the government included, to resolve this issue quickly. It is clear to us, to the Solicitor General and to the Department of Justice that DOMA’s days are numbered,” says Tara Borelli, Lambda Legal’s Staff Attorney.
Lambda Legal represents Karen Golinski who’s employeer, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, denied her spousal health benefits. In January 2009, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski ruled that this violates the Ninth Circuit’s employment policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation to deny the legally married Golinski the same benefits for her wide, Amy Cunninghis as heterosexual court employees receive for their lawful spouses.
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The federal Office of Personal Management (OPM)—an agency of the executive branch—responded that the law governing federal employees’ health insurance and DOMA prevent coverage for the spouses of lesbian and gay federal employees, and instructed Golinski’s insurer not to enroll Cunninghis. Lambda Legal is suing the federal government to compel it to stop interfering with the orders of the federal appellate court’s chief judge so that Golinski can be provided equal benefits for Cunninghis.
Borelli added, “The last four courts to consider the question have all found Section 3 of DOMA—which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples’ valid marriages—to be unconstitutional. The Department of Justice’s action may speed the day when the Supreme Court reaches the issue. Lambda Legal and Morrison & Foerster stand ready to argue for fair treatment for Karen Golinski and her spouse, Amy Cunninghis, in any court, at any time—and we welcome this opportunity to finally put DOMA out of its, and our, misery.”