S.F. Federal Court Ordered to Pay for Gay Partner Benefits

The Judicial Council of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cited multiple rulings against DOMA in ordering San Francisco’s federal court to pay an employee’s insurance costs for his husband.

BY Julie Bolcer

November 26 2012 1:00 PM ET

Christoper Nathan, left, and Thomas Alexander

San Francisco’s federal court must pay for insurance coverage for an employee’s same-sex partner, according to a regional court council that cited rulings against the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Judicial Council of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the court to pay the insurance costs incurred by Christopher Nathan, a law clerk for U.S. Magistrate Maria Elena James, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Nathan had been turned down when he sought coverage for his husband, Thomas Alexander, in the government insurance plan because of DOMA. The 1996 law prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.

“In April, Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware said the denial violated the federal court's rules against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender, and ordered the court to reimburse Nathan for the costs of buying private insurance,” reports the Chronicle. “The Judicial Council, the final authority in the administrative review process, went a step further in this week's order and said DOMA has been held unconstitutional by a San Francisco federal judge in another employee's case.”

The panel ordered the court to pay Nathan within 10 days. He said he will sue if the court refuses to reimburse him.

The Supreme Court will review a handful of challenges to DOMA later this week and announce whether it plans to hear any of the cases. 

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