Judge Says Same-Sex Spouses Can Sue Over Denied Health Benefits
A federal judge has ruled that California state employees can sue for discrimination over a federal law that excludes same-sex spouses from receiving benefits in a long-term health care program, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken of Oakland denied the Obama administration's request to dismiss the case and indicated that she might overturn provisions of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.
In April, three UC-San Francisco employees and their spouses filed a lawsuit in response to CalPERS' refusal to enroll the spouses in a federally approved long-term health care plan.
CalPERS said it would 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.
In her decision, Wilken considered only whether the lawsuit over health benefits could proceed in court.
Claudia Center, an attorney for the three UCSF workers and their spouses, said the judge's ruling provides a "pretty clear direction as to where she's going." Center said she plans to ask Wilken to give class-action status to the lawsuit.
CalPERS declined to comment on the ruling, and the U.S. Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment, according to the Chronicle (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/20).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.