House Democrats Seek Federal Health Benefits for Same-Sex Partners
This week, more than 130 House Democrats submitted legal brief saying the government should allow same-sex spouses of federal workers to be covered by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the Washington Post's "Federal Diary" reports.
The amicus brief was filed in support of Karen Golinski, a federal court employee in California who sought health coverage for her wife but was denied under the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (Davidson, "Federal Diary," Washington Post, 7/12).
In February, a federal district judge ruled that section 3 of DOMA, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, was unconstitutional (Davidson, "Federal Eye," Washington Post, 7/12). The district court issued a permanent injunction barring the federal government from blocking Golinski from adding her wife to her coverage (California Healthline, 5/15).
Although the Obama administration is seeking to eliminate DOMA, it has said that the court's ruling applies only to Golinski and does not extend coverage to other same-sex spouses of federal employees ("Federal Eye," Washington Post, 7/12).
The ruling is being appealed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, which represents the House Republican leadership ("Federal Diary," Washington Post, 7/12).
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a statement said, "The brief makes it clear that the House is not united on DOMA's validity, that the BLAG lawyers do not speak for the entire institution."
She added, "[T]here is no legitimate federal interest in denying married same-sex couples the legal security, rights and responsibilities that federal law provides to couples who are married under state law" ("Federal Eye," Washington Post, 7/12).
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has asked the Supreme Court to take up the case and provide an "authoritative resolution" before the appellate court rules ("Federal Diary," Washington Post, 7/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.