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New Advancements in California

Scales of JusticeAt the end of May, a Federal Judge in California ordered that the largest United States pension and welfare fund, The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (Calpers), must offer to same-sex couples and domestic partners the same long-term care insurance benefits it offers to straight married couples.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled that the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, which supports the right of one man to marry one woman, is unconstitutional because it violates “gay and lesbian couples’ constitutional right to equal protection of the law.”

In this case, Judge Wilken ordered that current and former state employees be permitted to enroll their same-sex spouses and partners in California’s extended care plan. The benefits will cover the cost of home care and other care necessary for people who are unable to manage their activities of daily living because of age, injury or chronic disease such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

And, in a welcoming comment, Anne Stausboll, CEO of Calpers, said, “We have been strongly advocating for the ability to administer our program for same-sex spouses and domestic partners, and we welcome the ability to extend important benefits to all our members and their families.”

In the meantime, now that President Obama and Vice-President Biden have voiced their pro-gay marriage opinions, be aware of the backlash germinating in Congress. A committee in the House of Representatives has been formed for the sole purpose of defending the Defense of Marriage Act in a court proceeding.

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Ellen S. Fischer of the Law Office of Ellen S. Fischer has been working closely with individuals and families throughout the greater Philadelphia region for more than 20 years. Ellen received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Temple University and returned to earn a Juris Doctor degree from the Temple University School of Law. Ellen serves on a number of leadership committees and is a member of Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia (GALLOP). In addition to LGBTQ services, Ellen's practice areas are family law and personal injury.