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BALIF is proud to join the fight to challenge the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

11 Jul 2012 9:35 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

On Tuesday, July 10, BALIF will be filing our Amicus Brief in Golinski v. OPM, which is currently on appeal in the Ninth Circuit.  Our effort is led by BALIF Board Member Nick Kacprowski and Amicus Committee member Leah Nutting.  The brief, drafted by Kirkland & Ellis LLP, argues that Section 3 of DOMA - which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples' valid marriages - burdens legal professionals, their employers, and the legal profession as a whole.  Specifically, government employees are not able to access the same employment benefits as their straight counterparts because of DOMA.  These include health insurance, family and medical leave, and retirement benefits.  The financial burden placed on employers and employees by DOMA is estimated to cost between $2,000 and $2,500 per employee.  DOMA burdens the legal profession by limiting the ability of LGBT legal professionals to pursue the career of their choice, and limits the federal government's ability to compete with the private sector in recruiting and retaining qualified legal professionals. 


Ms. Golinski, a staff attorney employed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in  San Francisco , was denied health insurance benefits for her same-sex spouse. In an Administrative Order, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski ruled that the denial of benefits violates the Ninth Circuit's employment policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, but the federal Office of Personal Management ignored the Order, citing the enforcement of DOMA. In February 2012, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White held DOMA unconstitutional.  In fact, the last four courts to consider the question have all found Section 3 of DOMA to be unconstitutional.


Board Member Peter Catalanotti is leading the effort to invite our sister bar organizations to join BALIF's Amicus Brief.  To date, ten have signed-on.  A copy of BALIF's Amicus Brief will be available on our website shortly. If your bar association is interested in joining BALIF's Amicus Brief, please contact Pete immediately at outreach@balif.org.  


Late on the eve of Independence Day, we learned that the DOJ asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider Golinski.  This development demonstrates that everyone - including the government - desires to resolve this matter quickly.  DOMA's days are numbered, and we look forward to finally putting DOMA out of its (and our) misery.

Click here to read the brief.

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