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Complaint: Pederson et. al. vs. O.P.M.

Complaint: Pederson et. al. vs. O.P.M.

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Published by: wgbhnews on Nov 10, 2010
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06/27/2012

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTFOR THEDISTRICT OF CONNECTICUTCIVIL ACTION NO. __________________________________________ JOANNE PEDERSEN & ANN MEITZEN, )GERALD V. PASSARO II, )LYNDA DEFORGE & RAQUEL ARDIN, and )JANET GELLER & JOANNE MARQUIS, ))Plaintiffs, ))v. ))OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT, )TIMOTHY F. GEITHNER, in his official capacity )as the Secretary of the Treasury, and )HILDA L. SOLIS, in her official capacity as the )Secretary of Labor, )MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, in his office capacity )as the Commissioner of the Social Security )Administration, )UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, )JOHN E. POTTER, in his official capacity as )The Postmaster General of the United States of )America, )DOUGLAS H. SHULMAN, in his official )capacity as the Commissioner of Internal )Revenue, and )ERIC H. HOLDER, JR., in his official capacity )as the United States Attorney General, ))Defendants. ) __________________________________________)COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
 
 2Introduction/Nature of the Action1. This is a case about federal discrimination against gay and lesbianindividuals married to someone of the same sex, and the harm that discrimination hascaused each plaintiff.2. Plaintiffs in this action are variously citizens of the State of Connecticut,the State of Vermont and the State of New Hampshire. They are all citizens of the UnitedStates of America. Each of the plaintiffs is, or was until becoming a widower, legallymarried to a person of the same sex in accordance with the requirements of applicablestate law.3. Although the federal government does not license marriages, a largenumber of its programs take marital status into account in determining eligibility for federal protections, benefits and responsibilities. Statute, precedent and practice establishstate law as the touchstone for determining a couple’s marital status for purposes of determining eligibility for federal programs.4. Each plaintiff, or his or her spouse, has made one or more requests to theappropriate agencies or authorities within the federal government, or the appropriate stateagency subject to federal law, for treatment as a married couple, a spouse, or a widower with respect to particular programs or benefits. Yet each of the plaintiffs has been deniedand is still being denied legal protections and benefits under federal law that are availableto a similarly situated person married to an individual of a different sex under pertinentConnecticut, Vermont or New Hampshire law.5. With each denial of specific protections or benefits, the defendants, their agents or those subject to their legal directives have invoked the “Defense of Marriage
 
 3Act,” P.L. 104-199, codified in part as 1 U.S.C. § 7 (“DOMA, 1 U.S.C. § 7”) and havestated that the federal government will only respect marriages between a man and awoman.6. A number of the plaintiffs, as set forth below, seek spousal protections based on their employment with, or their spouse’s employment with, the United Statesgovernment. Plaintiff Joanne Pedersen, a federal retiree from the Department of the Navy, Office of Naval Intelligence, has “Self Only” health insurance coverage and isunable, like similarly-situated federal retirees married to spouses of the opposite sex, toenroll in “Self and Family” coverage to add her spouse, Plaintiff Ann Meitzen, to that plan. Plaintiff Lynda DeForge, a 25-year employee of the United States Post Office, has been denied leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for her spouse,Plaintiff Raquel Ardin. Both DeForge and Ardin have “Self-Only” FEHB healthinsurance plans, and have been denied “Self and Family” coverage to cover the two of them under one policy. In each instance, DOMA, 1 U.S.C. § 7, has barred the plaintiffsaccess to benefits routinely granted to others in similar circumstances.7. One of the plaintiffs, Gerald V. Passaro II, seeks spousal protectionsafforded by the Social Security program. Specifically, he seeks the “One-Time Lump-Sum Death Benefit” normally available upon the death of a spouse. He is denied this benefit by the Social Security Administration because of DOMA, 1 U.S.C. § 7.8. In addition, Plaintiff Gerald V. Passaro II has been denied the ERISA-mandated qualified preretirement survivor annuity (QPSA) available under the defined benefit pension plan under which his now-deceased husband was vested through his

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