Joey Tsu-Yi Chen
Barry Montgomery, Petitioner v. Michael Mukasey, Respondent
In August 2005, Fred Hillhouse and Barry Montgomery, two homosexual males, were married under the laws of Massachusetts. Following their marriage, the couple jointly purchased a townhouse in South Boston. However, on January 18, 2006, Fred was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and left his job.
Through the Internet, the couple soon found out about Dr. Gina Kline, a successful lawyer who, in her second career, had opted to become a doctor specializing in cancer. Dr. Kline had an internationally recognized reputation for treating the type of cancer from which Fred suffered. At the time, Dr. Kline was practicing medicine at the University of Avalon Hospital, located in Avalon, a U.S. state.
In February 2006, to live nearer to the University of Avalon Hospital, Fred and Barry moved into a single-family home in Avalon with the intention to live there permanently. Barry quickly secured a job with the Avalon Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). As part of his compensation, Barry was allotted 10 days of paid sick leave per year. Avalon law allowed employees to use sick leave for illnesses of the employee's "immediate family," which included spouses.
Unfortunately, in February 2007, Fred's condition deteriorated to the point where he needed continuing treatment by an oncologist and constant supervision at home. To care for Fred, Barry made two requests. First, he requested 10 workweeks of leave from the DMV under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).Second, he asked to use 10 days of paid sick leave to care for Fred, pursuant to § 2-301 of the Labor and Employment Article of the Avalon Code. As required by Avalon law, Barry made the requests in writing to Eric Dumas, the Avalon Commissioner of Benefits.
The Commissioner denied both of Barry's requests. Mr. Dumas denied Fred's first request because the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) excludes individuals in same-sex marriages from the definition of "spouse" under federal laws including the FMLA. Mr. Dumas denied Fred's second request because DOMA allows Avalon to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. The Commissioner informed Barry that he could remain at work or be fired. Barry stayed at home to care for Fred. As a result, the DMV fired Barry.