Washington, D.C. —
A federal court in California on Wednesday declared a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional, gay weekly Metro Weekly
U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey S. White's ruling found Section 3 of DOMA, which bars the federal government from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples, in violation of the equal protection rights of such couples.
Karen Golinski, a 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals lawyer, sued the government after her employer denied health insurance coverage to her wife, Amy Cunninghis. The U.S. Office of Personnel (OPM) has argued that DOMA blocks such benefits.
"The Court concludes that, based on the justification proffered by Congress for its passage of DOMA, the statute fails to satisfy heightened scrutiny and is unconstitutional as applied to Ms. Golinski," White wrote. "Although the Court finds that DOMA is subject to and fails to satisfy heightened scrutiny, it notes that numerous courts have found that the statute fails even rational basis review."
Defending the law is the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), which was created by Republican leaders in the House after the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it would no longer defend the law in court.
In July, the DOJ filed a 31-page brief in which it argued for the first time that DOMA serves no legitimate policy interest.
Lambda Legal, which is representing Golinski in her challenge, said the ruling "spells doom for DOMA."
"The Court recognizes the clear fact that a law that denies one class of individuals the rights and benefits available to all others because of their sexual orientation violates the constitutional guarantee of equality embodied in the Fifth Amendment," said attorney Tara Borelli.