The California Legislature is in session. Today’s schedule is here.
On to today’s California headlines:
A judge on Wednesday declared the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and ordered the federal government to ignore the statute and provide health benefits to the wife of a lesbian federal court employee.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White was the first since the Obama administration announced a year ago that it would no longer defend a law it considers discriminatory and reflective of a long history of denying equal rights to gays and lesbians.
White ordered the federal Office of Personnel Management to enroll the wife of Karen Golinski, an attorney for the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in the health benefits program available to other employees of the federal judiciary. The Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the extension of federal benefits to same-sex spouses, and Golinski’s wife, Amy Cunninghis, had been repeatedly denied coverage since the couple married in 2008.
“The court finds that DOMA, as applied to Ms. Golinski, violates her right to equal protection of the law … without substantial justification or rational basis,” wrote White, who was named to the federal bench a decade ago by President George W. Bush.
White’s ruling echoed that of a Massachusetts judge who in 2010 deemed parts of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, a case now on appeal before the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.
Sugary sports drinks would be banned during the school day at middle and high school campuses under legislation proposed this month in the Assembly.
Assembly Bill 1746 would restrict middle and high school sales of sports drinks – called “electrolyte replacement beverages” in the bill – to before and after each school day.
Sports drinks already are prohibited at elementary school campuses, according to Assemblyman Das Williams, a Santa Barbara Democrat who proposed AB 1746. The California Medical Association is among the sponsors of the bill.
California state finance director Ana Matosantos pleaded no contest Tuesday to driving over the legal limit for alcohol last year in downtown Sacramento.
Matosantos was sentenced by Sacramento Superior Court Judge James P. Arguelles to three years informal probation and two days on the sheriff’s work program, for which she has the option of serving in home detention, according to her lawyer, Megan Virga.
The finance director also was required to complete a three-month DUI program and to pay a fine of $2,200, Virga said. The terms of her plea are standard for first-time offenders.
President Barack Obama is enjoying a mini-renaissance in California.
Golden State voters are giving him a higher job approval rating and larger margins of victory over potential GOP challengers than they did three months ago. And they are more confident about the future of the nation, according to a new Field Poll.
Obama’s job ratings had slipped below 50 percent last summer in a state dominated by his fellow Democrats. The new poll shows him up to 53 percent approval, still well below a 65 percent peak in 2009.
The president also has widened his lead over potential GOP opponent Mitt Romney. He leads a hypothetical Romney matchup, 55 percent to 35 percent, mostly on the strength of nonpartisans moving to his camp. Similarly, Obama leads former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, 60 percent to 32 percent, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, 56 percent to 33 percent.
Enjoy your morning!