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Largest Federal Employee Union Hails Ruling Striking Down Defense of Marriage Act

Supreme Court decision ensures equal treatment for federal employees regardless of sexual orientation

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees today hailed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision declaring the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

“This ruling is a victory of equality over exclusion, of fairness over fear, of compassion over contempt,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

Because of DOMA, the federal government has treated married same-sex couples differently than other married couples with regards to taxes and many other benefits.

“As the Supreme Court has clearly decided, DOMA was an unconstitutional law that discriminated against a group of Americans for no other reason than their sexual orientation, denying them basic rights and protections that so many of us take for granted,” AFGE General Counsel David Borer said.

In March, AFGE joined with AFL-CIO and other labor organizations in filing a friend of the court legal brief, urging the Supreme Court to declare the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. The case in which the Supreme Court ruled today, Windsor v. United States, involved New York resident Edie Windsor. Ms. Windsor sued the federal government after DOMA caused her to receive unequal tax treatment because of her same-sex marriage.

Federal employees who are married to a spouse of the same sex have been directly harmed by DOMA, said Leisha Self, AFGE Legal Rights Attorney for the 14th District. In addition to disparate treatment with regard to federal taxes, federal employees have been barred from adding their same-sex spouses to their benefits, often forcing them to pay higher costs or receive less coverage for health insurance, vision and dental insurance and flexible spending accounts.

“Now that the Supreme Court has declared DOMA unconstitutional, we expect the federal government to move swiftly in changing its rules and regulations to ensure that all federal employees are afforded the same rights and benefits, regardless of whom they choose to marry,” Self said.