SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The Defense of Marriage Act violates the equal-protection rights of same-sex spouses, a federal judge ruled.
U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken enjoined the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) from denying same-sex spouses enrollment in its long-term insurance plan for state workers.
Passed in 1996, DOMA contains a section that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
In using DOMA to justify excluding same-sex couples from the plan, federal lawmakers exhibited bias, Wilken said.
“The legislative record contains evidence of anti-gay animus,” Wilken wrote Thursday.
Like U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ruled in February, Wilken found Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional, rejecting the defenses raised by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the United States House of Representatives.
They had claimed that Section 3 preserves marriage as a traditional institution, but Wilken said these theories did not hold water.
“The preservation of marriage as an institution that excludes gay men and lesbians for the sake of tradition is not a legitimate governmental interest,” she wrote. “Under equal protection jurisprudence, tradition is not a legally acceptable reason to prohibit a practice that historically has been the subject of social disapprobation.”
Michael Dragovich, 51, filed the suit in April 2010 after he was barred from enrolling his spouse Michael Gaitley, 51, in the CalPERS long-term care program.
The case White decided in February, which is scheduled to go before the 9th Circuit in September, also involved a government office’s refusal to add a same-sex spouse to her wife’s health benefits plan.