A federal district court has ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution by prohibiting California same-sex couples from signing up for long-term care insurance through the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS).
It’s a case that’s sure to be appealed, maybe all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Same-sex marriage was legal in California from June 16, 2008, until Nov. 5, 2008, when Proposition 8 amended the state Constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
Recent case: A group of California state employees and their same-sex partners who were married or registered as domestic partners sued the IRS and CalPERS when they were denied the chance to buy into the system’s long-term care insurance program.
The insurance provides benefits when a spouse suffers from a serious health condition like Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic conditions requiring specialized care and treatment.
The defendants said that DOMA prohibited their participation since they weren’t heterosexual couples. But the couples argued that the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause, which guarantees equal protection under the law for all persons, trumps DOMA.
The court agreed after determining that there were no compelling legitimate reasons to exclude same-sex couples from benefits heterosexual couples receive, at least in this example. (Dragovich, et al., v. IRS, et al., No. C-10-01564, ND CA, 2012)
Final note: This case has made national headlines and is sure to be appealed to the 9th Circuit shortly.