Court’s Domestic Partners Get Health Insurance

An Oregon law clerk for the federal trial court will get health benefits for her female domestic partner in a 9th Circuit Judicial Council executive decision Monday.

The circuit published its order overturning the Oregon chief judge’s denial of domestic partner health benefits to Margaret Fonberg.  The council’s executive committee said denial of her benefits application violated her due process and equal protection rights.

Oregon currently does not allow same-sex marriage, although there is a petition drive under way to amend the state constitution through a ballot initiative.  The state has offered domestic partnerships since 2008.

Chief Judge Ann Aiken denied Fonberg’s benefits request and she filed a complaint under the district’s Employment Dispute Resolution plan alleging it was discrimination based on sex and sexual orientation.

Aiken originally ordered Fonberg reimbursed for the cost of providing health insurance for her partner, but later said that because Fonberg and her partner were not married she had no authority to order reimbursement.

The circuit Executive Committee reversed Aiken.  The committee includes Chief judge Alex Kozinski, Judge Richard Clifton and District Judge Ralph Beistline of Alaska.

They held the denial amounts to sex discrimination and denial of due process and equal protection, based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Windsor, earlier this year.

Case:  In the matter of Margaret Fonberg, No. 13-002




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