A quiet little very important victory

Timothy Kincaid

January 30th, 2011

A little over a week ago our community gained a significant step forward in our quest for marriage equality, and few noted it. The briefs filed in the challenge to DOMA in Massachusetts caught attention, but there is also a DOMA challenge in California. (Chronicle)

In a victory for gay rights advocates, a federal judge has ruled that state employees in California can sue for discrimination over the federal government’s exclusion of their same-sex spouses from a long-term health care program.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken of Oakland denied an Obama administration request to dismiss the suit Tuesday and signaled that she is likely to overturn provisions of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples.

Wilken has rejected, in advance, the notions usually put forward by anti-gay activists.

She also rejected arguments that the law’s sponsors put forth in 1996, that the legislation was necessary to promote procreation and preserve heterosexual marriage.

“Marriage has never been contingent on having children,” Wilken said, and denying federal benefits to same-sex couples “does not encourage heterosexual marriage.”

Wilken has not indicated whether she will allow her suit to cover domestic partners as well as spouses. If she does not, then this could have a significant impact on the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case. It would create a very significant difference between domestic partnerships and marriages (the possibility of federal recognition) and could torpedo the opposition.

Lindoro Almaviva

January 30th, 2011

And let’s hope that torpedo leads to self destruction.

Gay Activist Ryan

January 30th, 2011

Repeal the constitutional DOMA now Obama!!!!!

Throbert McGee

January 30th, 2011

Wilken has not indicated whether she will allow her suit to cover domestic partners as well as spouses.

Hmmm. So should we cross our fingers and hope that she includes domestic partners so that gay people with California DPs can actually get the practical federal benefits they’re currently lacking, or should we hope that she excludes domestic partners because this would create a new disparity for us to be upset about?


January 31st, 2011

Is it important, and I do not know, whether California’s DP Laws deem partners as “Spouses”?

Does it give registered partners “Everything-But-Marriage”? And even so, Does DOMA refer to anything except Marriage specifically? Does DOMA exclude relationships “like Marriage”?

The suit is about the Federal Government’s denial of benefits to same-sex couples.


January 31st, 2011

customartist – my layperson understanding from the ruling was that same-sex couples can have every right, but not the word “marriage”, so it sounds like the word “spouse” is fair game. I’m not a lawyer though.


January 31st, 2011

From CA family code 297:

297.5. (a) Registered domestic partners shall have the same rights,
protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same
responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law, whether they
derive from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules,
government policies, common law, or any other provisions or sources
of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses.

From this I gather that DPs are NOT spouses, but are ‘sposed to be treated as equivalent.


March 18th, 2011

It’s definitely to our benefit to have the judge (accurately) state that marriage is not the same as a civil union or domestic partnership.

Currently, one of the “best” arguments that anti-gay people have with regards marriage equality is that marriage is not required, and that civil unions provide all the available benefits to gay couples.

There is no federal reference to non-marital spouses.

So, once there is any federal recognition of same-sex married couples, there suddenly becomes a huge difference between a marriage and a civil union.

That takes the wind out of a lot of “hey, it’s just the same, we’re not discriminating, we are just protecting marriage” sails.

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