SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A Republican-led House of Representatives group announced Friday it will appeal a decision in which a federal judge in San Francisco on Wednesday struck down the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act.

The 1996 law, known as DOMA, defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman for purposes of federal laws and programs and thus denies federal benefits to same-sex couples.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White declared the measure unconstitutional in the case of a federal appeals court staff member, Karen Golinski, who wants to enroll her wife in her employer’s health plan.

Golinski was barred from obtaining employee health insurance for her wife, Amy Cunninghis. The two women married in 2008 during a five-month period in which same-sex marriage was legal in California.

White ruled the law discriminates against legally married gay and lesbian couples and violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal treatment.

Today, the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, led by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, filed a notice of appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

The group stepped in to support DOMA after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced last year that the Justice Department will no longer defend the law.

The advisory group is made up of the House of Representatives’ three majority leaders and two minority leaders. The efforts to defend DOMA are supported by the group’s three Republicans but not by its two Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco.

Another federal trial judge in Massachusetts issued a similar ruling striking down the law last year, and that case is now on appeal before a federal appeals court in Boston.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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