SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

November 25, 2012

Benefits fight brings lesbian couple to high court

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Like a lot of newlyweds, Karen Golinski was eager to enjoy the financial fruits of marriage. Within weeks of her wedding, she applied to add her spouse to her employer-sponsored health care plan, a move that would save the couple thousands of dollars a year.

Her ordinarily routine request still is being debated more than four years later, and by the likes of former attorneys general, a slew of senators, the Obama administration and, possibly this week, the U.S. Supreme Court.

Because Golinski is married to another woman and works for the U.S. government, her claim for benefits has morphed into a multi-layered legal challenge to a 1996 law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing unions like hers.

The high court has scheduled a closed-door conference for Friday to review Golinski’s case and four others that also seek to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act overwhelmingly approved by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton.

The purpose of the meeting is to decide which, if any, to put on the court’s schedule for arguments next year.

The outcome carries economic and social consequences for gay, lesbian and bisexual couples, who now are unable to access Social Security survivor benefits, file joint income taxes, inherit a deceased spouse’s pension or obtain family health insurance.

The other plaintiffs in the cases pending before the court include the state of Massachusetts, 13 couples, and five widows and widowers.

“It’s pretty monumental, and it’s an honor,” said Golinski, a staff lawyer for the federal appeals court based in San Francisco who married her partner of 23 years, Amy Cunninghis, during the brief 2008 window when same-sex marriages were legal in California.

The federal trial courts that heard the cases all ruled the act violates the civil rights of legally married gays and lesbians. Two appellate courts agreed, making it highly likely the high court will agree to hear at least one of the appeals, Lambda Legal Executive Director Jon Davidson said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • Salem's Collins seeks longer day

    SALEM -- Collins Middle School may look a little different next year. For starters, longtime Principal Mary Manning, who has headed the school for more than 20 years, is retiring and will be replaced by a new, yet-unnamed principal. More than that, t

    April 19, 2014 6 Stories

  • 140418_SN_KYU_WALK_2 Walking the Walk BEVERLY -- Four hundred thirty walkers, 10.5 miles and $65,000. Those are the numbers you can count on just about every year from the Good Friday Walk. The 35th annual walk produced those figures once again yesterday, with the money going to help nee

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Marblehead chief charts drop in crime MARBLEHEAD -- Police chief Robert Picariello has highlighted an overall drop in crime from 2012 to 2013 in his annual report to the town. The decrease was substantial in the category of crimes against persons, down 23 percent for incidents like rape,

    April 19, 2014

  • North Shore residents to run in 2014 Boston Marathon

    The Salem News asked those on the North Shore who are running this year's Boston Marathon to share their reasons for running. 

    If you're running the marathon this year, it's not too late to share why you're running. Send a brief paragraph, a photo of yourself and a link to your fundraising site (if applicable) to Cheryl Richardson at crichardson@salemnews.com.

    April 17, 2014

  • One-way school bus passes to get trial run in Peabody PEABODY -- Students will be able to ride the school bus one way next year without paying the price of a round-trip fare. The School Committee has agreed to offer one-way passes on a trial basis following review of transportation data and a proposal f

    April 19, 2014