The Washington Post

Appeals court strikes down DOMA in federal employee case


A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that a law denying employment benefits to the same-sex spouse of a federal employee is unconstitutional.

The ruling by the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston, said: “Congress’ denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples lawfully married in Massachusetts has not been adequately supported by any permissible federal interest.”

This decision affirms a lower court finding that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. DOMA says that for federal purposes legal marriage is between a man and a woman.

The law prevented the Office of Personnel Management from allowing the same-sex spouse of Nancy Gill, a Postal Service clerk, to use federal employee health benefits as heterosexual spouses can.

“I go in and do my job, and I just want the rights that other people have,” Gill told the Federal Diary last year.

The court delayed implementation if its ruling until the matter could be decided by the Supreme Court.

“The battle isn’t over,” said a statement by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the organization representing Gill. “We expect the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) of the U.S. House of Representatives to appeal the decision.”

Although “Bipartisan” is in its title, BLAG represents the House Republican leadership.

Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at Follow the Federal Diary on Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.

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