A gay couple in Los Angeles was awarded compensation Tuesday for being denied spousal benefits by the federal government.
U.S. ninth circuit court of appeals judge Stephen Reinhardt ruled in February that federal public defender Brad Levenson and his partner, Tony Sears, were wrongfully denied health benefits on the basis of sexual orientation, which is banned by California law. He is now ordering the federal government to calculate and pay what it owes to him.
Levenson and Sears married July 12, 2008, according to court documents. When Sears tried to register with the federal government to collect spousal benefits shortly after the wedding, the Office of Personnel Management turned down the couple's enrollment, citing the Defense of Marriage Act. Levenson appealed, and the judge ordered that the government compensate the couple for outside health coverage.
"If Sears were female, or if Levenson himself were female, Levenson would be able to add Sears as a beneficiary," Reinhardt wrote in an opinion. "Thus, the denial of benefits at issue here was sex-based."