A lesbian employee of a
Catholic-affiliated institution in New York has filed a class-action
lawsuit after being denied medical coverage for her wife.
The woman, whose name was not given, on
Tuesday filed the action against St. Joseph's Medical Center in
Westchester County, The
New York Times reported.
St. Joseph's, unlike most companies in
New York, is self-insured and as such is primarily governed by
federal, not state, regulations.
New York state last July legalized gay
marriage, but federal law does not recognize such unions. The
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), approved in 1996, defines marriage as
a heterosexual union and bars federal agencies from recognizing the
legal marriages of gay couples.
“I'm not just thinking about our
particular situation,” said the unnamed hospital employee who said
she feared retribution for speaking out publicly against her
employer. “I'm also thinking about the folks who are behind us,
the younger people in their 20s and 30s, who are thinking about
getting married and who are going to have the same problem. It's
just not socially fair.”
Debra S. Cohen of the firm Newman
Ferrara said the class-action suit was filed on behalf of all married
gay people in New York who are covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield,
which acts as the administrator, and are denied spousal coverage
because their employers choose to use the federal definition of
marriage, not only married gay employees of St. Joseph's.
“There's an extra layer of
resistance, or justification, when you are dealing with an
institution that has a religious basis for being opposed to same-sex
marriage,” Cohen told the paper. “But we believe there are many
companies that are not religiously affiliated that also have this