Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Court supports same-sex couples in benefits case

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has rejected the federal government’s request to dismiss the constitutional claims of gay and lesbian state workers who, together with their registered domestic partners, are excluded from equal access to the state’s Long-Term Care Program.

Judge Claudia Wilken issued the ruling in Dragovich v. CalPERS, a class action lawsuit challenging federal and state laws including the Defense of Marriage Act which regulate state-sponsored long-term care plans. The ruling was issued Thursday, January 26. CalPERS is the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

“Registering as domestic partners is the only legal status currently available to gay and lesbian couples in California,” Claudia Center of Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center, the group representing plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement. “These couples have agreed to take on all of the obligations of marriage, and are entitled to fair and equal treatment from the federal government.”

In finding that the exclusion may violate the U.S. Constitution, the court took note of discriminatory intent, referring to a number of official actions the federal government has taken to oppose same-sex domestic partnerships. These include the enactment of the Defense of Marriage Act, which bans federal recognition of same-sex relationships. The opinion also quoted Congressional leaders who’ve described domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples as “an attack on the family” and “abhorrent.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, January 27, 2012 @ 5:45 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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