Court: Denial of same-sex benefits discriminatory

Same-sex couple Breana Hansen (L) and Monica Chacon kiss as they celebrate outside of San Francisco City Hall on February 7, 2012, in San Francisco, California.
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(CBS/AP) SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge in San Francisco says the denial of insurance benefits to same-sex spouses is discriminatory.

The ruling Tuesday involves 38-year-old federal court law clerk Christopher Nathan and 39-year-old Thomas Alexander, who were married in 2008 when same-sex marriages were legal in California. Voters later approved Proposition 8, overturning the state Supreme Court ruling that had legalized same-sex marriages.

Nathan was turned down when he tried last year to enroll Alexander in the federal government's health insurance plan. A 1996 law bars federal recognition of same-sex unions.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware ruled that denial of insurance benefits based on the sexual orientation and gender of Nathan's spouse is discriminatory.

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Ware said he has no authority to force the courts' national office to provide insurance coverage. Instead, he ordered the chief clerk of the San Francisco federal court to reimburse Nathan for the past and future costs of buying insurance for his husband, the Chronicle reports.