Federal Judge Strikes Down Denial of Benefits to Same-Sex Partner under DOMA

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Congress violated constitutional standards on legalized bigotry when it denied federal benefits from same-sex spouses and excluded domestic partners of state employees from long-term health coverage, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken of Oakland was the second by a Bay Area judge this year to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law withholding more than 1,000 federal benefits – such as joint tax filing, Social Security survivor payments and immigration sponsorship – from gays and lesbians legally married under state law.

Wilken also overturned another 1996 law that denied federal tax benefits to long-term health insurance plans for state employees if they included domestic partners.

Specifically, the court found that Section 3 of DOMA “violates the equal protection rights of . . . same-sex spouses.” The opinion is available here.