Yesterday there were two Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) challenge in the courts. Today there are five.
Adding to Gay and Lesbian Advocates (GLAD) and Defenders’ Massachusetts-based suit Gill V the Office of Personnel Management (a Federal agency in charge of Federal employee compensation, usually referred to as OPM), and Massachusetts V U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Lambda Legal, the ACLU and GLAD all filed Federal suits today against provisions of DOMA around the country.
First this morning, GLAD filed Pedersen V OPM in Connecticut which–much like their Gill and Massachusetts cases–accuses Federal Government programs and benefits of violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth and Tenth Amendment and the Spending Clause of the US Constitution. However, the Pedersen case also accuses the Federal Government of forcing state and private entities to violate the Constitution in adhering to DOMA’s regulations.
However, this was only the begining of the DOMA news. The ACLU was ready with Windsor V the United States for a Federal Court in New York City. When Edie Windsor’s wife Thea Spyer passed away in 2009 after a decades-long battle with multiple sclerosis, Windsor was hit with a $350,000 bill in Federal estate taxes that any other widow would have avoided.
However, this wasn’t even the end. Later in the day it broke that Lambda Legal had filed a brief yesterday in the US District Court in Northern California (the same place the successful Perry V Schwarzenegger Prop 8 case was filed by the American Foundation for Equal Rights) in a case known as Golinski V OPM that had earlier this year ordered Blue Cross & Blue Shield, to pay the spousal benefits to the spouse of one of the court’s employees. OPM–using DOMA as an excuse–intervened and told the insurer, which provides insurance benefits to the Federal employees of the court, not to provide those equal spousal benefits (I know, complicated, right?). OPM, by the way, is headed by the openly gay John Berry.
Lambda filed the brief asking another judge to step in and stop the Federal Government from forcing the court to violate its own nondiscrimination policies. The judge won’t be ruling on the Constitutionality of DOMA, but rather “that application of that law’s provisions to block equal employment benefits would indeed be unconstitutional.”
And that’s today’s DOMA challenges in a nutshell. What to know more? Read Chris Geidner’s coverage at MetroWeekly.