SAN FRANCISCO—The Supreme Court will be having a closed-door conference this Friday to discuss an ongoing debate in regard to legal benefits for the San Franciscan same-sex couple Karen Golinski and Amy Cunninghis, along with 4 other similar cases.
Golinski, a lawyer for the Federal Appeals Court based in San Francisco and Cunnhinghiss, her partner of 23 years, married in 2008 during the short period when marriage was legal in California. This moment in history gained world recognition from its start to end, beginning in June of 2008 by an equal protection argument and ending in November of 2008 due to the passing of Proposition 8. The legal battles for the couple began when Golinski wanted to add her partner to her employer sponsored health care plan, which would have saved them thousands of dollars. Four years later, her case is still being heard.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed in 1996 under the Clinton administration, defines marriage as a legal union of one man and one woman for federal and inter-state recognition purposes. This law will be put into question at the High Court this Friday due to Golinski’s case and a number of similar cases where smaller courts have ruled that they are under clear violation of their constitutional rights. Section 3 of DOMA is what focuses on the non-recognition of same-sex marriages for federal purposes such as insurance benefits, government employees, social security survivor benefits, and filing of joint tax returns. In 2011 the Obama Administration voted that DOMA was unconstitutional, and though the law itself will continue to be enforced, it will no longer defend in Court.