A federal appeals court on Tuesday rejected the Obama administration's request to speed up its review of the federal law denying benefits to same-sex spouses and said it would hear the case in September.
The 1996 law, known as the Defense of Marriage Act, withholds benefits such as Social Security payments, joint tax filing and immigration sponsorship rights to gays and lesbians who are married under state laws.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White of San Francisco declared the law unconstitutional in February, calling it an irrational act of discrimination, and ordered the government to let a federal court attorney enroll her wife in a government-sponsored family insurance plan.
President Obama withdrew his administration's defense of the law in February 2011, saying he considered it unconstitutional, and it is being defended by lawyers hired by House Republican leaders. They have appealed White's ruling to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.