Judge orders compensation to gay couple denied spousal benefits

Brad Levenson and Tony SearsA federal judge today ordered compensation for a Los Angeles couple denied spousal benefits by the federal government because they are gay men, reports the Los Angeles Times.

U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt deemed the denial of healthcare and other benefits to the spouse of federal public defender Brad Levenson to be a violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of due process and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which is prohibited by California state law.

Levenson married his longtime partner, Tony Sears, on July 12, 2008, during the five-month period when same-sex marriage was legal in California. A ballot measure, Proposition 8, was passed a year ago defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Reinhardt issued the ruling after the Office of Personnel Management overrode his earlier finding that denying health coverage to Levenson’s husband violated both the U.S. Constitution and the court’s own anti-discrimination rules. The office cited the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act in making the spouses of gay federal workers ineligible as dependents.

Reinhardt’s order applies only to Levenson.

Photo credit: Levenson and Sears, in a March 2009 The New York Times photo.
Full story at the Los Angeles Times.

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