AFL-CIO Backs Marriage Equality in DOMA Case Brief

“The AFL-CIO today filed a “friend of the court” brief asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to uphold a lower court’s ruling that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The 1996 law denies federal benefits to same sex couples.

In the brief, filed along with Change to Win (CTW) and the National Education Association (NEA), the three union groups say:

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), by intention and design, ensures that workers with same-sex spouses earn less money, are taxed more on their wages and benefits, and have available to them fewer valuable benefits and less economic security than their counterparts with different-sex spouses.

In February, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ruled DOMA unconstitutional in a case filed by Karen Golinski, a federal attorney who was seeking family insurance coverage for her wife. But House and Senate Republicans and other groups filed an appeal.

The three labor organizations outline four key ways DOMA limits the rights of workers married to persons of the same sex:

  • First, DOMA prevents or significantly restricts access to spousal healthcare benefits.

  • Second, DOMA denies to same-sex couples benefits provided to other married couples when a worker suffers a workplace injury, or otherwise becomes ill or infirm.

  • Third, DOMA impinges on the ability of workers to plan for retirement by mandating a complete denial of Social Security benefits to same-sex spouses of covered workers, and precludes same-sex spouses from receiving the benefits of tax provisions intended to incentivize savings in private retirement accounts.

  • Fourth, DOMA unfairly circumscribes immigration and naturalization laws for married same-sex couples seeking to work and remain lawfully in the United States.

Click here for the full brief. Also today, more than 130 House Democrats filed a similar brief with the Court of Appeals.  The case is expected to be heard in September.

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