On November 18th, 9th Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt ruled that federal public defender Brian Levenson must be compensated for loss of health care benefits to his gay spouse when the Office of Personnel Management rejected his spousal benefit claims. The next day, Chief Judge Alexander Kozinski ruled that Karen Golinski, a circuit court staff attorney, must be allowed to pursue her claims of health care benefits for her lesbian spouse. The Recorder's Dan Levine thinks that gay marriage has received a "boost" from these rulings, even though they are administrative, limited to circuit employees, and without bind precedent on other courts.
11/18/09 press release by Lambda Legal:
Lambda Legal and the law firm of Morrison & Foerster represented Karen Golinski, a judicial attorney at the court, in her administrative grievance against her employer. In January, 2009, Chief Judge Kozinski ruled that Golinski was entitled to spousal benefits for her wife, Amy Cunninghis. The federal Office of Personal Management – an agency of the Executive Branch – responded that the law governing federal employees’ health insurance and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prevent coverage for the spouses of gay and lesbian federal employees, and instructed Golinski’s insurer not to enroll Cunninghis.