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March 17, 2009


Yesterday I reported on the contested same-sex partner benefits for employees of California's court of appeals. There are, in fact, two California cases (as cited in the New York Times Article) that challenge the inequity of spousal benefits provided to employees.

The two cases involve Karen Golinski, 46, a lawyer who works for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and Brad D. Levenson, 49, a lawyer who works for the federal public defender in Los Angeles. Citing the 1996 Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal Office of Personnel Management issued instructions that would deny those benefits even though two judges of the federal appeals court in California said that employees of their court were entitled to receive them.

There is also a third case that raised similar issues in a lawsuit filed against the federal government last week in Boston by eight same-sex couples.

Given that the newly appointed head of the Federal Personnel Office is openly gay M. John Berry, I seriously doubt that he wanted his department to issue those instructions. Especially since he, along with President Obama, has already endorsed the idea of providing health benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. These cases now provide a tool with which DOMA can be challenged. BUT THEY NEED OUR SUPPORT. The religious right is already launching a campaign to prevent changing or overturning DOMA and you can bet that part of their strategy will use massive email campaigns.

Today, working with the Courage Campaign, Cleve Jones, founder of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and historical consultant for the film "MILK", sent out an email asking us to sign a letter to President Obama urging him to keep his promise and "...allow the federal government to provide the same health benefits to same-sex spouses and partners of federal employees that other federal employee spouses receive."

I wholeheartedly support this effort and have already signed the letter. Since this is now a "game" of influence by numbers, I urge everyone who cares about equality and justice to sign as well.

TO READ AND SIGN THE LETTER TO OBAMA, GO TO: http://www.couragecampaign.org/page/s/keepyourpromise