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Same-Sex Couples Sue CalPERS

Audio

Aired 4/14/10

Three same-sex couples are suing the California Public Employees' Retirement System. The couples allege CalPERS is violating their civil rights by excluding same-sex partners from long-term health care plans.

— Three same-sex couples are suing the California Public Employees' Retirement System. The couples allege CalPERS is violating their civil rights by excluding same-sex partners from long-term health care plans.

CalPERS allows state workers to use pre-tax money to buy long-term care insurance. Employees and all of their family members are eligible for the coverage -- except same-sex partners.

Federal law bans such coverage to same-sex partners. California law doesn't allow it, either, even to couples who got married in 2008 when gay marriage was briefly legal.

Attorney Laurie Rikfin with San Francisco's Legal Aid Society represents the plaintiffs. She says the prohibition doesn't make any sense.

"It's completely irrational, in this context where public employees can enroll anybody else in their families," Rifkin argues.

CalPERS says its long-term health care plan could lose its federal tax status if same-sex couples were eligible.

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