A Statement from NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell

(San Francisco, CA, December 18, 2009) — Today President Obama’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced that it will not provide equal health benefits to the spouse of federal employee Karen Golinski, defying a decision by Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski concluding that the benefits must be provided pursuant to the Court’s nondiscrimination policy. Karen Golinski is represented by Lambda Legal in this matter. The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) issued the following statement:

A statement from Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights:

“Today’s decision fails our families and the legitimate expectations of our community. It is based on an overly expansive reading of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and an unnecessarily narrow view of the law on federal employee benefits. We call on the Obama Administration to end government-sanctioned discrimination against same-sex couples and their families and to do everything in the President’s power to ensure equal treatment under the law.

Respectfully, we say that President Obama must do more to lead on these issues. He should instruct his administration to stop offering offensive and ludicrous arguments defending DOMA, to stop interpreting DOMA as broadly as possible to block protections that families need, and to endorse the federal Respect for Marriage Act. The Respect for Marriage Act is federal legislation to repeal DOMA and ensure that married same-sex couples are treated equally under the law. While NCLR supports the federal Domestic Partners and Obligations Act, only ridding the country of DOMA once and for all will end this invidious discrimination.

Today’s decision stokes the growing criticism that the Administration is not delivering on the President’s promises to this nation’s LGBTQ families.”

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.