Golinski Case

Golinski v. U.S. Office of Personnel Management, et al. and Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (9th Cir. 2012): EJS joined twenty-eight public interest and legal services organizations in an amicus brief to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in support of Karen Golinski, who was denied spousal health benefits by her employer, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. Golinski’s application was denied because 1 U.S.C. § 7 (Defense of Marriage Act) forbids federal recognition of same-sex marriage. The brief’s primary argument was that heightened scrutiny is the appropriate standard of review for laws that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Amici argued that sexual orientation classifications should be treated as suspect or quasi-suspect under a heightened scrutiny analysis for several reasons: (1) gays have suffered a history of purposeful unequal treatment; (2) sexual orientation does not bear any relationship to how people perform in or contribute to society; (3) there is empirical research that gay couples are able to raise children and be in committed relationships; (4) sexual orientation is an immutable characteristic; and (5) gays experience continuing political powerlessness and are subjected to sexual stereotypes.

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