Ms. Karen Golinski, a federal employee, and her wife Ms. Amy Cunninghis have been partners for more than 20 years–legally married in 2008 under California law. Karen Golinski had sought to enroll her wife in the federal employee health plan, and was refused on the grounds of the discriminatory Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA). This week, a US District Court Judge in the Northern District of California granted summary judgment in favor of Karen Golinski. The court found “that DOMA, as applied to Ms. Golinski, violates her right to equal protection of the law under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution by, without substantial justification or rational basis, refusing to recognize her lawful marriage to prevent provision of health insurance coverage to her spouse.” Leader Pelosi on the DOMA ruling:
Today’s ruling is a victory for the liberty, civil rights, and equality of LGBT Americans and, indeed, all Americans. By declaring the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, we can right a wrong of our past; we can move closer to ending a fundamental unfairness in our nation; and we can look forward to the day when we discard this discriminatory law in the dustbin of history. With this decision, our country has taken a step forward for marriage equality – a step toward a time when all of America’s families enjoy the blessings of equal protection under the law.
In rejecting the arguments of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, the court’s ruling also reaffirmed a core belief of the majority of House Democrats: that the House is not united in this case; that the BLAG lawyers do not speak for Congress; and that BLAG’s intervention remains a waste of taxpayer resources. The court made it clear that there is no legitimate federal interest in denying married gay and lesbian couples the legal security, rights, and responsibilities guaranteed to all married couples under state law.
Today, we celebrate an extraordinary moment in our nation’s history, and we pledge to continue fighting – in the courts, in state legislatures, and in Congress – until DOMA is repealed. We must work to ensure every American has the freedom to marry; and every citizen is guaranteed fair treatment in our society and our nation.
Under Speaker Boehner’s direction, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) intervened in this case seeking to dismiss it. Despite the fact that the Judge denied BLAG’s motion to dismiss and rejected BLAG’s insulting arguments in support of the unconstitutional DOMA, today the House Republican leadership announced they will appeal the decision through BLAG. Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Leader Pelosi:
The District Court in Northern District of California flatly rejected the arguments of Speaker Boehner and his taxpayer-funded lawyers that insulted millions of Americans and their families. The court made it clear that there is no legitimate interest in denying a class of couples the rights and responsibilities guaranteed to married couples under state law.
Over the past year, the initial $500,000 in outside legal fees Speaker Boehner plans to spend has tripled to $1.5 million without any vote of the BLAG. That is a tremendous amount of taxpayer money expended, on a purely partisan basis, to defend discrimination. With progress on marriage equality coming from all corners of our country, Speaker Boehner would have been better served and saved taxpayers’ money if he had more carefully reviewed the district court’s ruling and had declined to file a notice of appeal.