Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Federal judge in California holds DOMA unconstitutional

The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed by President Clinton, has been declared unconstitutional by a district court judge (Jeffrey White), in Golinski vs. US Office of Personnel Management, with the Lambda Legal copy of the opinion (expandable PDF) here.

You can save the PDF on your own computer by the icon at the bottom.

Golinski, an employee of the Ninth Circuit, had attempted to enroll her partner into the federal health plan.

The ruling was made under the Equal Protection Clause if the Fifth Amendment, along with rational basis analysis (p. 43 of the PDF). 

Wikipedia summarizes the provisions of DOMA near the beginning of its entry here. The main provisions had been to except from usual “full faith and credit” analysis any state gay marriage law, and to deny same-sex marriage at a federal level (for federal benefits or federal employees), as a “federal definition of marriage”.  The law appears to allow or encourage states to do as they please within their own borders.  There are some who wanted to do this at a constitutional level, since a statute could not legally define concept like this definitively.  An attempt amend the US constitution this way failed in 2004.

The original govtrack issue from 1995 is here

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