Judge Likely To Strike Down Ban on Benefits for Same-Sex Partners
On Thursday, a federal judge indicated that she likely will strike down a federal law that excludes same-sex partners from receiving long-term health care benefits, saying that the law appears to be based on prejudice, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/27).
In April 2010, three UC-San Francisco employees and their partners filed a lawsuit in response to CalPERS' refusal to enroll the partners in a federally approved long-term health care plan.
CalPERS said it could not enroll the spouses because the Defense of Marriage Act denies federal tax benefits to states that provide coverage to same-sex couples through federally supported programs (California Healthline, 1/20/11).
On Thursday, Wilken ruled that domestic partners could join the suit. According to Claudia Center, a lawyer for the California employees and their same-sex partners, the ruling adds hundreds of plaintiffs to the case.
Wilken said same-sex couples in the state "are relegated to registered domestic partnerships because legal marriage is prohibited for them," adding that Congress "saw registered domestic partnership as a marriage-like status" and based its decision on sexual orientation.
Wilken also signaled that she likely will overturn the law because of failure by federal officials "to show a plausible, legitimate rationale for excluding domestic partners from (the law's) list of eligible family members (for the tax benefits), and the court can think of none."
She noted evidence that the exclusion of same-sex partners from tax benefits was "motivated by antigay animus," which she said is unconstitutional, according to Supreme Court precedent (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/27).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.