A federal judge on Friday rejected a request made by lawyers acting on behalf of House Republicans that the court delay a DOMA challenge where a disabled war veteran is contesting the law’s block on equal spousal disability benefits.
U.S. District Judge Consuelo Marshall of Los Angeles denied a stay in a brief order Friday. She did not spell out her reasoning but said she had considered all pertinent factors, including the harm that a delay might cause.
That harm amounts to $124 a month that the law is costing former Army Sgt. Tracey Cooper-Harris in disability benefits, her lawyers said.
Cooper Harris v. United States is a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Tracey Cooper-Harris. The suit challenges the denial of equal disability benefits for Harris’ same-sex spouse.
BLAG, lawyers acting on behalf of the Republican House leadership, wanted a delay until the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had decided the case of Karen Golinski, a federal worker challenging DOMA’s ban on spousal benefits, arguing that they were substantially similar and that the more advanced case, that might have implications for the Cooper-Harris case, should take priority.
However, Judge Marshall’s order rejected this, pointing out the cognizable monetary cost to any such delay.
BLAG, rather controversially, is also defending the military’s Section 101(3), (31) of Title 38, related to military benefits, even though no formal vote was held on whether the House should defend this aspect of the military code, something that Democratic lawmakers have decried.
Cooper-Harris, currently a resident of Pasadena, was stationed in Kyrgyzstan and Kuwait during her time on active duty. She was highly decorated, receiving in excess of 24 medals and commendations during her 12 years of service. Since discharge in 2003, Cooper-Harris has continued to suffer with a number of health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder. She was diagnosed in 2010 with multiple sclerosis, which the government has acknowledged is connected to her military service.