thanks doma!

Nope, OPM’s John Berry Won’t Give This Lesbian Gov’t Employee Same-Sex Health Benefits


Karen Golinski, the staff attorney for the Ninth Circuit of Appeals, who has been refused shared spousal insurance benefits by the federal government, will not get them. That’s the final word from her boss: the federal government.

After reviewing Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski’s decision (as an administrator, not a judge making an official ruling) that the Office of Personnel Management was violating Golinski’s rights under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan that demands she receive equal employment opportunities, OPM and its boss John Berry has decided, after meeting with Department of Justice counsel, that they cannot, ahem, legally force Blue Cross and Blue Shield to provide Golinski’s partner Amy Cunninghis with health insurance.

Because of a little thing called the Defense of Marriage Act.

Your blood should be boiling, particularly as you read each word of excuses from OPM general counsel Elaine Kaplain, provided to Queerty.

You can expect there won’t be an executive order from the White House to rectify this situation.

There have been some developments in the Ninth Circuit regarding access to benefits for same-sex spouses of federal employees, and there’s some confusion over this important issue. Specifically, Karen Golinski, an employee of the Federal Courts, filed a grievance against her employer claiming that the denial of enrollment of her same-sex spouse in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP) violated the Ninth Circuit’s Equal Employment Opportunity policy. Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, sitting in his administrative capacity, and not as a federal judge in a court case, said that employees of the court were entitled to FEHBP health benefits for their same-sex spouses. OPM must administer the FEHBP in a lawful manner, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) has advised OPM that providing those benefits would violate the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act.”

All federal employees — be they in the Executive, Legislative or Judicial branch — receive their heath care benefits in the FEHBP, which is administered by OPM. Spouses and minor children of federal employees are eligible to be enrolled in the FEHBP. However, in 1996, the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” was signed into law and it states that the word “spouse,” when used in a federal statute, can mean only opposite-sex spouses. In other words, the current federal law means that same-sex spouses are ineligible to be enrolled in federal benefit programs that define eligibility based on their status as spouses. As the President has explained, the Administration believes that this law is discriminatory and needs to be repealed by Congress — that is why President Obama has stated that he opposes DOMA and supports its legislative repeal. He also has said he supports the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act (DPBO), which would allow all same-sex domestic partners of federal employees to receive federal benefits, including enrollment in the FEHB Plan.

It’s important to understand that Judge Kozinski was acting as an administrative official in this matter, reacting to the concerns of an employee of the judiciary. He was not acting as a federal judge in a court case. This does not mean that the inability to extend benefits to Karen Golinski’s spouse is any less real or less painful, but it is a critical point.

The decision in this matter was not reached lightly — after we learned of this development, we examined our options and consulted with the DOJ. DOJ advised us that the order issued by Judge Kozinski does not supersede our obligation to comply with existing law because it is not binding on OPM, as it was issued in his administrative capacity, and not as a judge in a court case. Thus, this type of order does not change the existing law, which DOJ concludes prevents the enrollment. DOJ also advised us that DOMA prohibits same-sex spouses of federal employees from enrolling in the FEHBP and that the law does not permit OPM to allow this enrollment to proceed.

This issue shows exactly why Congress needs to repeal DOMA and pass the DPBO. In fact, the passage of the DPBO would remedy this situation in a way that reaches beyond this individual case involving an employee of the judiciary by providing benefits to same-sex domestic partners of all federal employees across the government whether or not they are married. That is why the Administration has testified before Congress on this crucial legislation, and why the President has personally called for its passage.

(Photo: NYT)

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  • GimmeABreak

    Obama is a fraud. At least Bushy boy was up-front about his discrimination. Obama just lies to you as he rams the proverbial knife into your back and his dick up your ass.

  • GayMafiaCapo

    Attention, gays, please note that John Berry has had his gay card revoked. Please refrain from letting him suck your dick or sitting on his face until such time as he stops fucking over the entire GLBT community. Thank you for your attention and participation. Seriously, there has never been a better example of an Uncle Tom (of Finland).

  • sourcream

    there is no gay card. some of you “gays” says the dumbest things.

  • alan brickman

    why? so sad john berry don’t ever call your self a true

  • unclemike

    Some of you “trolls” say even dumber things…

  • wondermann

    So it’s more of Judge Kozinski’s isssue, yet you blame Obama.

  • FakeName

    It’s not Judge Kozinski’s issue at all. He ordered that the benefits be provided. It was Berry who chose to ignore that order with this weak excuse. I assume that on Monday morning Golinski will file suit and Kozinski or some other judge will issue an actual court order based on the existing decision. Which Berry will fight with every implement at his disposal because he is a Bad Gay.

  • Prof. Donald Gaudard

    My, oh my!! How fast the trolls have hit this web site.

  • Brown Gay Al

    Gay Democrats are victims of Stockholm Syndrome. they actually believe Obama is going to do something for them while he keeps on emptying their pockets and keeps them captive.

  • Daniel

    Considering how much Democrats AND Republicans are screwing over the public with their so-called “health reforms” that only benefit the insurance companies, is anyone really surprised by them denying someone health benefits?

  • Brian Democrat

    We have been PLAYED by the party. Two simple repeals of discriminatory hate laws, and everything else, more complex and costly, gets listed on Rahm Emmanuel’s to do list first. Fuck Obama and his fundamentalist-led team of assholes.

    Immigration reform is next. Civil rights for leaf-blowers before veterans. Nice

  • Mike in Asheville, nee "in Brooklyn"

    This can’t possibly be the first case where the Administration has rebuked an order issued by a Judicial administrative judge. There must be plenty of precedent. Federal judges don’t like anybody snubbing their orders, I predict fireworks….

  • wondermann

    “Gay Democrats are victims of Stockholm Syndrome.” No, some folks don’t overreact.

  • InExile

    This is another knife in our backs, again.

    I hope all of you have hit the opt-out button on Organizing For America and told them why.

    I also hope none of you are sending this FRAUD any money.

  • naghanenu

    Ok i m going to go out on a limb and say…i really dont see how Obamastration is once again stabbing gays in the back.

    Obama did not sign DOMA into law. He met it there. He is our President and whether he likes or not he has to ensure that the law is enforced. What kind of govt will we be in if Obama just flings out executive orders to ignore laws anyway he likes? It sucks…really it does. But until DOMA is repealed, there is nothing anyone can do. The people that created DOMA are not stupid. That shiz is airtight.

    It needs to repealed in the normal way otherwise opponents will raise a storm so high it will make your head spin. Instead of insulting Obama, why dont you put that energy into hoping he stays long enough for that repeal to happen?

  • dhimmitude

    Berry is acting like a good old fashioned Quisling. His boss needs to issue the Executive Order, being the head of the Executive Branch and all. Fuck DOMA, it’s an immoral law.

  • Hyphenated Name Guy

    Time to file a claim at the district court.

  • FakeName

    Obama did not sign DOMA into law. He met it there. He is our President and whether he likes or not he has to ensure that the law is enforced.

    Nonsense. He (through the DoJ and Attorney General) was not required to file briefs in defense of DOMA, but he did anyway. The AG issued an edict that it would not enforce federal drug laws against medical marijuana distributers in states with medical marijuana laws. The federal government picks and chooses all the time what laws to defend and enforce.

  • Brian NJ

    It is funny how gays fail to realize that when an issue is at the higher on the Obama Administration agenda, his whole administration works hard to get it done: Rahm puts his people into action, they hold meeting with Pelosi and Reed to help them get their people in line, he gets the ground word done, he schedules the time it will take. And Obama’s priorities get done. The Democratic Party controls the entire legislative agenda, and they set their priorities with Rahm Emmanuel deciding what goes first, second, third, etc.

    When other issues are at the BOTTOM of the Obama agenda, or “to do” list, you can see that clearly too. The talking points are 1.) He is too busy to do that; 2) He only signs the laws, he does not make them, Congress makes the laws; 3.) Stop being impatient, he only just arrived in office. All those excused are lies. We are just at the bottom of the list.

    What makes it so outrageous, is that DADT and DOMA are just two repeals. They are not the complex new police legislation that he is successful in getting on his desk to sign. Repeals are not hard, and require not complex budgetary analysis. Obama does not work to repeal them because he does not want to spend political capital on helping us. We are LOW ON THE LIST. So any time someone tells you that you don’t understand how a bill becomes law, explain how they are being deceived.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Naghanenu said, “It needs to repealed in the normal way otherwise opponents will raise a storm so high it will make your head spin. Instead of insulting Obama, why dont you put that energy into hoping he stays long enough for that repeal to happen?” Good point.

  • FakeName

    No, it’s not a good point. Real leaders do things that may affect their popularity because it’s the right thing to do. Lyndon Johnson, despite being an appalling son of a bitch, recognized this when he signed the Civil Rights Act into law. He knew it would be incredibly unpopular and even damaging to his party in the short term, but he understood the importance of enduring the short term fallout to achieve the long term result. Compare that to Obama, who wouldn’t be in office were it not for the political courage of LBJ and congressional leaders who came before him, and his craven insistence on “defending the status quo” as his administration puts it in its briefs in the Smelt case.

    Why not put our energy into keeping Obama around long enough to repeal DOMA and DADT? We did that already, when we elected him after he promised repeal. He’s had the time to repeal them. We no longer believe he has any interest in devoting any time or attention to repeal.

  • Brian NJ

    It is truly the “Stockhom Syndrome” with the LGBT people. They are frightened like littly bunnies thinking they are being protected by the Democrats, when they are being played for votes and contributions. The timidity is also they reason we are listed on the bottom of Rahm Emmanuel’s to do list. Timidity has drained all political leverage. It’s just like the ugly girl invited to the party because she is bringing a case of booze, all the while thinking she is invited because they want her to come.

    it is important for the gay community to recognize that if you treat the Federal Government (controlled by Democrats) like your employees, you will get results. If you act like a beggar, you will be treated like a beggar. You are a beggar.

  • Brian NJ

    The Stockholm Syndrome is why we received DADT and DOMA from a Democratically controlled government the last time. We get them in office, and their revulsion takes over. We have to make them respond and think, not try to be their friends.

  • naghanenu

    No. 20 · 1EqualityUSA
    Thanks!!! Like i said before i have a lot of respect for your posts and i feel flattered you agree with me on this.

    I understand the urgent need to kick all the laws that limit gays to the curb. As a minority, i get it. It sucks. However,there is something called due process. Do you think if DOMA had not been put into law properly it wont have been kicked out by now? Lets be realistic and mature about this. If you want benefits, get Congress on your side and repeal the laws properly. You cannot do that by removing support from Obamastration. You know as well as i do, that this is as good as it gets for gays for a long time when it comes to having someone in charge on your side. Support him no matter how bad it gets. He genuinely wants to help. This whole ‘closing gayTM to the DNC’ is freaking childish and reactive and divisive. A united front wins battles.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    The true power rests with the Supreme Court. Presidents are transient.

  • Brian Miller

    This whole ‘closing gayTM to the DNC’ is freaking childish and reactive and divisive.

    Nope, it’s how the real world (e.g. productive people outside of politics) operate.

    If you want my investment, show some return on that investment (ROI).

    The Democrats have collected billions of LGBT dollars in contributions since 1991 but delivered nothing but DOMA and DADT. That’s a NEGATIVE ROI.

    Obama promised change and positive ROI. He has not delivered. Thus, the LGBT movement should demand some return on their existing investment before throwing good money after bad.

    The same principle is used in business and most personal budgets. If you’re not getting what you pay for, you stop paying and put the onus on the person demanding the money to prove you’re getting the service you’re paying for.

  • Brian Miller

    And please don’t come in about how “democracy is not for sale.” It clearly is. Citigroup, AIG, GM, and Chrysler got their money’s worth from the president.

  • InExile

    Time after time he stabs us in the back and many of you make excuses like oh he’s too busy, oh he will do it later, there is more important things like the economy, oh we need jobs, oh he has to defend the law, he’s only been in office a year, only congress can make laws, and on and on.

    Justice delayed is justice denied.

    What is more important than your own equality?

  • Brian NJ

    The Democrats put Federal hate laws on the books, and now won’t take them off the books. Yet people find excuses for them. The party just keeps playing the ignorant like a fiddle, as they swallow every big load of Rahm’s spunk.

  • Brian NJ

    Oh yea, and up next on the Obama civil rights agenda? What could it be! — two simple repeals of the Federal hate laws?? You guessed WRONG — the answer is civil rights for non-citizen ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS! You heard wrong, right?? I must have said civil rights for veterans, right? Nope. Equal rights for gay American families, right? Nope. Civil rights for people who cut in the immigration line! RIGHT. Everyone else cuts in line before gay issues, why not the illegals? OH, AND WITH THE HAPPY PERMISSION OF THE GAY OBAMAPOLOGISTS.

  • Brian Miller

    What is more important than your own equality?

    Government FREEBIES!

    At least if you’re “The Task Force.” I’ve not received an e-mail from them in months until just last week.

    What was it for? PPIA? Immigration equality? Tax treatment equality? Marriage equality? Adoption or ending DADT?

    Nope, it was a call to lobby Congress to pass the health bill!

    Because the government that says your family isn’t real, and bans you from serving in the military, and bans you from sponsoring your partner for immigration, and bans you from getting a passport with your legal name based on a marriage certificate is EXACTLY who you want running your health care!

  • Schteve

    Blame should fall to Obama and the Justice Department, not Berry and the OPM. All Berry did was follow the instructions of the DOJ when it said it could not legally go ahead with the benefits, even if it wanted to (and I would find it hard to believe that Berry would NOT want to do so).

    @No. 15 · naghanenu, how about this? Obama has time and time again called DOMA “discriminatory” and “wrong”. His words. And yet he upholds it (despite not being required to) as constitutional (even throwing out some pretty offenses reasoning in doing so). I simply want to know how he, the constitutional lawyer, can at the same time call a statue law discriminatory yet constitutional. Does the Fourteenth Amendment only forbid discrimination against non-gays?

Comments are closed.