House Democrats push health benefits for feds’ same-sex spouses


House Democrats have filed an amicus brief arguing that federal health benefits should cover same-sex spouses of employees.

The 130 representatives filed the brief in the latest challenge to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which bans same-sex marriage. In March, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ruled that aspects of DOMA that prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. The decision was followed by a unanimous ruling from an appeals court that the entire act was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court is expected to take up the issue in 2013.

Karen Golinski, a federal court employee in California, originally filed the case after her partner was denied coverage under the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. While the Office of Personnel Management has attempted to give same-sex couples benefits, it is restricted by the tenets of the law. The Senate currently is working on a bill to provide benefits to the same-sex spouses of federal employees.

The attorney representing Golinski and her partner appreciated the Democrats’ friend-of-the-court letters, as well as 12 other amicus briefs filed in the case.

“What these briefs make clear is that DOMA is both discriminatory and burdensome, unjustly stigmatizing one segment of the population while at the same time increasing the cost of doing business,” Shelbi Day told The Washington Post. “Clearly, it is time to put DOMA out of its -- and our -- misery.”

While the White House stopped defending DOMA in court in 2011, President Obama made statements supporting an overturn of the law in a May interview with Barbara Walters.

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