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Judge Rules CalPERS Must Cover Same-Sex Couples

By Robyn Hagan Cain on May 30, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

California's same-sex couples won another federal court victory over the Defense of Marriage Act last week. Oakland-based District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled on Thursday that the California Public Employees' Retirement System, commonly known as CalPERS, must extend long-term care insurance to same-sex spouses and partners, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Judge Wilken is the second federal judge in California to rule that DOMA Section 3 is unconstitutional. In February, Judge Jeffrey White ruled DOMA is unconstitutional as applied to Karen Golinski, a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals employee. The Golinski ruling is currently on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Wilken's decision came out of same-sex couples' lawsuits against CalPERS. The system does not enroll gay spouses in its federally-approved insurance program on the grounds that they were excluded by DOMA, reports CBS San Francisco. Wilken said the DOMA ban violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal treatment, and that there was no proof that DOMA was "rationally related to a legitimate government interest."

Judge Wilkins found that DOMA "treats gay men and lesbians differently on the basis of their sexual orientation" without any legal basis, noting that "the imposition of subjective moral beliefs of a majority on a minority cannot provide a justification."

The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) might beg to differ.

BLAG is already challenging Judge White's Golinski v. OPM decision before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Gill v. OPM decision before the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Golinski will be argued in September. The First Circuit heard argument in Gill on April 4.

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