A San Francisco judge ruled Wednesday that it's unconstitutional for the government to refuse to extend health benefits to the partners of homosexual federal employees by relying on the Defense of Marriage Act.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said the federal law, which bans government recognition of same-sex unions, violates the rights of homosexuals without merit.
White was deciding on a case involving Karen Golinski, a lawyer employed by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who has been trying to obtain spousal benefits for her wife.
Golinski married Amy Cunninghis during the brief time that gay marriage was practiced in California.
The federal judge ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act violates Golinski's rights "without substantial justification or rational basis" by "refusing to recognize her lawful marriage to prevent provision of health insurance coverage to her spouse."
Wednesday's move marked the first ruling since the Obama administration said last year that it would no longer back the Defense of Marriage Act in court.
A federal judge in Massachusetts also ruled in July 2010 that the law is unconstitutional. A year later, 20 bankruptcy judges in Los Angeles ruled that the act violated the civil rights of a married gay couple who had been denied the right to file a shared bankruptcy plan.