OPM: FEHBP must cover lesbian fed's wife, but no other same-sex spouses


Karen Golinski, a lesbian federal employee, won a major court victory in February when a federal judge ruled that the government had to extend health benefits to her same-sex wife. But other gay and lesbian feds won’t be able to benefit from Golinski’s victory at this time.

The Office of Personnel Management in March ordered Blue Cross Blue Shield to cover Golinski’s wife, Amy Cunninghis. But today, OPM sent a notice out on its listserv that said the Golinski ruling does not apply to anyone else.

“OPM has been directed by the Department of Justice to continue applying the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to all other situations,” OPM said. “Therefore, if you receive a request to enroll a same-sex spouse, you are still precluded by DOMA from processing the enrollment request or sending it to the [Federal Employees Health Benefits] Plan.”

OPM has been in an awkward position for some time regarding health benefits for same-sex spouses. OPM Director John Berry is gay, and has repeatedly said he thinks gay and lesbian feds’ spouses should be covered. But Section 3 of DOMA prevents the government from legally recognizing same-sex marriages, which bars gay feds’ husbands and wives from FEHBP. The Justice Department last year said it believes DOMA is unconstitutional and it would no longer defend the law. And last July, Justice backed Golinski’s case in a brief that amounted to a mea culpa for the government’s “significant and regrettable” history of persecuting gay and lesbian employees. (Go back and read that blog, and this one for some background on how gay and lesbian feds were treated. It’s pretty startling.)

But even though the Obama administration may want to extend health care to gay and lesbian feds’ spouses, it now seems pretty clear that won’t happen until DOMA is repealed or struck down.


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  1. It’s going to happen sooner or later, someone just needs to step to the plate and get ‘er done! Enough of the unlawful discrimination – yes, that’s what it is – DISCRIMINATION. We are not 2nd class citizens, we pay our taxes and many of us have served our country in the U.S. military, defending the very freedoms that some of our bigoted citizens use against us. Repeal DOMA now! The Declaration of Independence states “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” for ALL – NOT “for all heterosexuals”, it does not dictate one’s sexual orientation. There is no difference with this discrimination than what the african americans endured years ago.

  2. I Love Wal-Mart on

    As a Republican through and through, I support gay marriage. The Democrats continue to make this issue a political calling…I truly don’t have any problem with ANY marriage, as long as the ramifications of this union are also treated equally. Doesn’t everyone realize decisions to allow full travel/relocation reimbursement for gay and lesbian (non-married)partners in Hillary Clinton’s State Department already happened, or did that back page news article slip through unnoticed? I wish for all gays and lesbians to have the right to be legally married. With that comes the responsibilities, as normally outlined in the marriage vows. One just can’t have their cake and eat it too. Divorces WILL happen, and then everyone is feeding the (lawyer) bulldog. Just don’t drum up some reduced health care premium for gays and lesbians that is less than I pay for myself and my wife. Then, it will hit the fan amongst your conservative “friends”.

  3. dogrules14

    “Depraved leftists”?
    So for you it is OK to discriminate against some people because you don’t happen to like them?

    What exactly is leftist about allowing married people to have their spouses on heath care coverage?

    Perhaps someone should investigate YOUR marriage and see if they find something about it they don’t like. Maybe the government should investigate ALL marriages and judge them one by one to see if they are “suitable” for health care coverage for their spouses? How would you like that? Would your marriage stand up to that kind of scrutiny?
    No, I didn’t think so. That is precisely why ALL married couples (straight or gay) should have equal spousal health care coverage. Even yours!

  4. I am a Fed employee… when I signed up for FEHB, I had the option to cover a domestic partner (I remember because I was engaged at the time and wanted my wife-to-be to be covered) So I guess I am getting mixed information, but it seems you can add your partner to some of your benefits

  5. dogrules14, just please stop typing before people begin to think you are dumber than the idiot they already presume you to be.

  6. We’re each entitled to our opinions I suppose. But it ought not to be overlooked that, relative to most of the rest of the civilized world, the Obama administration’s policies appear to be conventionally right-wing.
    Our nation is the only one in the first world where people can expect to be bankrupted by medical expenses, even if they have health insurance. That in and of itself should tell you all you really need to know.
    I wonder why it is that of all industrialized nations we continue to view life as a “sink-or-swim” proposition. That outlook would be a political death sentence anywhere else in the First World and in a good portion of the rest of the world.
    As for marriage equality, I cannot for the life of me fathom why anyone believes that there are valid reasons to oppose it. And as for DOMA…what purpose does it serve other than to select a specific group of legally married individuals for disparate and disadvantaged treatment?

  7. dogrules14, Your opinion is befitting of other middle school children and unsuitable for discussion among informed, thoughtful adults.

  8. Pingback: Fedline » OPM’s Berry: Justice Dept. opinion ties my hands on gay spouses’ health benefits

  9. Less than 1% of the total population is LGBT. State after state vote down same sex marriage proposals by significant margins. No definitive scientific study has ever established that a person is born gay. When do we stop pandering to a miniscule portion of the population and tell them “You made your choice, now live with the consequences”? Should we allow cats and dogs to be covered as dependents because their owners consider them a member of the family? Should we allow someone to marry a farm animal and issue coverage to that couple? What has happened to accepting responsibility for your actions? There are states that approve of same sex unions. If you wish those freedoms, as a free American, you are allowed to move to those areas. Please do so. 99% of Americans are not LGBT, 3 out of every 5 believe it is a depraved lifestyle. Kindly do not attempt to legitimize your poor life choices and force the 99% of us to pay for something we frankly find offensive.

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