Monday, December 07, 2009

Highest-Ranking Gay Official: Can't Follow Court Order

Over the weekend at a conference in San Francisco, John Berry, head of the Office of Personnel Management and the highest-ranking openly gay person in the Obama administration, responded to a question (video below, via The Bilerico Project) about the White House court order which I first highlighted here over the Thanksgiving weekend. Last week, I had the attorney for Karen Golinksi, the federal employee to whom the Chief Judge of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Obama administration give federal marriage benefits, on the show.

As attorney James McGuire told me, the White House has until December 21 to either let Karen Golinksi have her rights, continue defying a court order, or challenge it. Berry says he or the White House doesn't have authority to give Golinski her rights -- even though the judge just ordered it, giving that very authority -- and that he's got to wait for Justice Department lawyers to figure out what to do. It sounds from Berry's remarks like the White House will continue defying the order. His claim though seems absurb: As Americablog points out, How can you say that you don't have the authority to follow a court order? It's a court order, end of story: You follow it. Unless you want to fight the rights of LGBT just for the sake of it?