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Judge Finds DOMA Unconstitutional

Judge Finds DOMA Unconstitutional


Federal judge Jeffrey White, who was appointed during George W. Bush's presidency, has ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. According to Think Progress, White, a judge in the U.S. District Court for Northern California, ruled in favor of Karen Golinski, an attorney and employee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, saying that her rights had been violated under the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution when she was denied spousal benefits that heterosexual employees receive.

In 2009, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski had ruled in Golinski's favor, saying that not providing those benefits violated the Ninth Circuit's employment policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, according to our earlier reports, but the U.S. Office of Personnel Management immediately announced that it would not comply with Kozinski's ruling, arguing that DOMA excluded same-sex couples and it lacked the legal authority to extend those spousal benefits to Golinski, even though she and her wife were legally wed.

Today's ruling is a victory for Lambda Legal, which represented Golinski, and other opponents of DOMA. According to Ginny LaRoe of The Recorder, who live-tweeted the trial today, White, yet another GOP appointee to vote in favor of gay rights -- Judge Vaughn Walker, of Proposition 8 fame, was as well -- said that DOMA should now be "subjected to heightened scrutiny. But it also fails even rational basis review." It is also, as Think Progress notes, "a serious setback" for Republican leaders in Congress, who have taken over the defense of DOMA in lawsuits after Obama administration officials announced they would no longer make a case for it.

The full court opinion is available at Think Progress.

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