A report published on TIME's web site just before the holiday has an explosive bit of information: the chief judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a while back that a lesbian federal employee who reports to him be given federal marriage benefits, and it was actually going to happen until the White House, through the Office of Personnel Management -- headed by openly gay appointee, John Berry -- refused to comply and directed the health insurance carrier of the employee not to proceed [all bold below is mine]:
The order was not published, and garnered little or no notice at the time. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts moved to comply with the judge's ruling, submitting [federal employee] Golinski's insurance form to Blue Cross Blue Shield, and the case would have probably gone away — had the Obama Administration not stepped in. "After the AO submitted Ms. Golinski's form, I thought this matter had concluded," [Judge] Kozinski wrote. "The Executive Branch, acting through the Office of Personnel Management, thought otherwise. It directed the insurance carrier not to process Ms. Golinski's form 2809, thwarting the relief I had ordered. I must now decide what further steps are necessary to protect Ms. Golinski and the integrity of the Judiciary's EDR [employee dispute resolution] plans."
Now Judge Kozinkski has ordered that OPM stop interfering, demanding last week that the Obama administration comply with his order:
Last week, the chief judge of one of America's most prominent federal courts ordered an Executive Branch agency to stop interfering with a court employee's efforts to secure health insurance coverage for her wife. "The Office of Personnel Management shall cease at once its interference with the jurisdiction of this tribunal," wrote Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. He gave the Administration 30 days to permit Karen Golinski, a lawyer employed by the Ninth Circuit, to include the woman she married under California law last year on her family health-insurance plan.
If the Obama administration, which now has less than 30 days to respond, tries to fight this, not only will it undoubtedly cause another (and much bigger, in my opinion) firestorm within the LGBT community, but it's not clear that it actually can fight it, let alone win:
[Judge Kozinski's] order last week demanded that the executive branch reverse course, and gave the Administration 30 days to enroll Golinski's wife as her health-insurance beneficiary. He made clear that if it doesn't, he's ready to use the powers of his court to enforce his decree. University of California law professor Rory Little, a former Justice Department prosecutor and chief of appeals, called the order a "bombshell." "This is like exposing the tip of a huge iceberg that nobody knew even existed," he told TIME. "It's a fascinating question: Do the courts even have the power to do this? Where does it leave things procedurally? Where can the Administration appeal? I think there are five or six lawyers in the [Solicitor General's] office scurrying around right now trying to figure out what to do with this."
And of course, another bombshell here is that the Office of Personnel Management was ordered by the White House to refuse to give a lesbian federal employee her court-ordered rights. John Berry, as head of that office, was thus apparently forced as an openly gay man to deny another gay person, and the LGBT movement itself, of rights, even in the face or a court order.Is this how openly gay appointees must operate within the Obama administration -- not as advocates on behalf of civil rights but rather as lackeys charged with blocking equal rights for their own kind? That, if true, is enormously troubling.
(h/t to Marc Love for tipping me off re: the TIME piece)