DOMINO EFFECT: Ruling on tax exclusions, another federal judge finds DOMA unconstitutionalBreaking News Friday, May 25th, 2012
U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken found Thursday that the Defense of Marriage Act’s (DOMA) limiting of same-sex couples’ and domestic partners’ rights to participate in a long-term care plan offered by the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) is unconstitutional.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District becomes the first federal court to decide a case relating DOMA since President Obama May 9 announcement supporting same-sex marriage. Wilken is a Clinton appointee. The court is in Oakland, Calif.
The decision follows similar rulings by judges in Massachusetts and another in California during the past two years. As reported in Metro Weekly’s “Poliglot” feature, Judge Joseph Tauro reached a similar conclusion in 2010 in a case out of Massachusetts that is on appeal, and Judge Jeffrey S. White in California reached the same conclusion earlier this year in a case slated for appeals arguments in September.
In the order issued Thursday evening, Wilken found that Section 3 of DOMA — the federal definition of “marriage” and “spouse” — “violates the equal protection rights of Plaintiff same-sex spouses” and that subparagraph (C) of Section 7702B(f) of the Internal Revenue Code “violates the equal protection rights of Plaintiff registered domestic partners.” Specifically, the court found that “both provisions are constitutionally invalid to the extent that they exclude Plaintiff same-sex spouses and registered domestic partners from enrollment in the CalPERS long-term care plan.”
While the judge ordered CalPERS not to use DOMA or the tax provision in question to deny enrollment to same-sex spouses and registered domestic partners, that order could be stayed while an appeal decision is sought. So far, there has been no word as to whether one would be sought.
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