SAN FRANCISCO – The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protections clause, a federal judge ruled today in an important test case in California that could have national implications.
Lambda Legal just tweeted the breaking news, noting that this is the first DOMA-related ruling since the Justice Department said that the federal law is unconstitutional and that it would not defend it in court.
Tara Borelli, one of the lead attorneys in the case, said "This ruling spells doom for DOMA."
District Judge Jeffery White, an appointee by President George W. Bush in 2002, ruled that DOMA violates the rights of Karen Golinski, who was denied spousal health benefits by her employer, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Lambda Legal is representing Golinski in the case Golinski v. United States Office of Personnel Management.
In January 2008, Chief Judge Alex Kozinksi of the Ninth Circuit ruled that the decision to deny benefits to Golinski violated the Ninth Circuit’s own employment policies prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination. However, the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) argued that DOMA prevented health-care coverage for gay and lesbian spouses of federal employees, and ordered the insurer of Golinski’s wife, Amy Cunninghis, to deny coverage.
Lambda Legal sued the federal government and OPM on Jan. 20, 2010.