Constitutional Law

9th Cir. Lawyer Sues Obama Admin Over Withheld Benefits for Same-Sex Spouse

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A federal government lawyer who works for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has sued the Obama administration over its decision to withhold health benefits from her same-sex partner.

The decision concerning benefits for the wife of attorney Karen Golinski, who works for the court in San Francisco, was made by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management over the repeated objections of Chief Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, according to a brief breaking Associated Press news story.

The office told Golinski that benefits are banned by a federal law (the Defense of Marriage Act) that prohibits the government from recognizing same-sex marriage. In a ruling he made as a hearing officer in charge of resolving 9th Circuit disputes, Kozinski described the refusal to provide health benefits illegal discrimination, according to the news agency.

The personnel office says it was told by the U.S. Department of Justice to ignore Kozinski’s ruling that health benefits should be paid to Golinski’s wife because the order is trumped by the requirements of the federal statute.

Golinski filed suit today in federal court in San Francisco. She is seeking an order requiring payment of the benefits.

Earlier coverage: “Two Federal Lawyers Win Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses in 9th Circuit Orders”

San Francisco Chronicle: “Give in on same-sex benefits judge orders feds”

Volokh Conspiracy: “Kozinski vs. DOJ/OPM part III”

Federal Diary (Washington Post): “OPM defies order on same-sex benefits”

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