According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a federal judge ruled that denying insurance benefits to same-sex spouses is discriminatory on Tuesday.
The case arose when Christopher Nathan, a law clerk for U.S. magistrate Maria Elena James, 38, tried to enroll his husband, Thomas Alexander, 39, in the federal government’s health insurance plan. Nathan and Alexander were married in 2008 when same-sex marriage was legal in California. However, a year later voters approved Prop 8, overturning the legality of same-sex marriage. When Nathan tried to enroll his husband in the insurance plan, he was turned down by the Administration Office of the U.S. Courts because the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) bars federal recognition of same-sex unions.
And while Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware ruled that discriminating against someone based on their sexual orientation or gender violates the federal court’s guarantee of a “discrimination-free workplace,” he has no authority to force the court’s national office to provide insurance, according to the article. That will happen if, and when, the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the issue of same-sex marriage.
But until then, this issue poses a problem for court administrators, who must decided whether to follow the federal ruling that does not recognize same-sex marriage or the federal anti-discrimination policies.
Ware decided to follow the anti-discrimination policies and “ordered the chief clerk of the San Francisco federal court to reimburse Nathan for the past and future costs of buying insurance for his husband,” according to the article.
Related article: ABC News