Dean Hara, the appellant in this suit, is the widower of his legal same-sex spouse in Massachusetts (U.S. Congressman Gerry Studds, who died in October 2006). He filed two separate applications with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM); the first, seeking a survivor annuity benefit, and the ...
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Dean Hara, the appellant in this suit, is the widower of his legal same-sex spouse in Massachusetts (U.S. Congressman Gerry Studds, who died in October 2006). He filed two separate applications with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM); the first, seeking a survivor annuity benefit, and the second seeking to be enrolled as a surviving spouse for health benefits under the Congressman's Federal Employees' Health Benefit Plan. OPM denied coverage, on two bases: first, because of the Defense of Marriage Act's ban on federal recognition of same-sex marriages, the plaintiff did not count as a "spouse," and second, Congressman Studds had not elected the sought coverage.
Hara obtained review of the first denial (of annuitant status) by the Merit Systems Protection Board; the Board upheld OPM's denial of coverage, but solely because of DOMA; the Board found that Congressman Studds' failure to elect coverage did not bar annuitant status. Plaintiff appealed to the Federal Circuit. The second denial (of FEHBP health enrollment) is also subject to the Federal Circuit's review.
Meanwhile, Hara was also one of several named plaintiffs in a U.S. District Court case in the District of Massachusetts, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management (PB-MA-0006
in this Clearinghouse), which asserted that DOMA violated the Equal Protection Clause. The Court stayed proceedings in this case pending the outcome of Gill. The Court of Appeals agreed with the Gill plaintiffs that DOMA is unconstitutional; the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari.
On July 26, 2013, the plaintiff moved that the Court vacate the Merit System Protection Board's decision affirming the decision of OPM to deny the plaintiff spousal benefits and remand the matter to the Board for proceeding consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in Windsor
On September 16, 2013, the Court issued a mandate granting the motion to vacate the earlier decision of the Merit System Protection Board and remanded to the Board for further proceedings. Shortly thereafter Hara and OPM began settlement discussions. OPM rescinded its decision from 2008 and granted Hara survivor annuity benefits. At the end of April 2014, both OPM and Hara filed for the Merit System Protection Board to dismiss the case. The Board complied, noting in its order that Hara could could still request consideration if dissatisfied with subsequent OPM decisions. Darren Miller - 11/26/2012
Claire Lally - 03/15/2015
Carolyn Weltman - 02/14/2016