In Ali v. Cooper, (ND CA, Jan. 30, 2018), a California federal district court refused to dismiss an equal protection claim by an employee of the Alameda Housing Authority (AHA) after her husband’s health insurance coverage was terminated.  The action was taken by the Executive Director (Cooper) and Director of Human Resources (Basta) because the couple were married in a Muslim solemnization ceremony without a civil marriage certificate. Plaintiff claims that the two defendants were motivated by religious animus in singling her out and invoking a rarely used obscure policy to deny coverage. The court said in part:Plaintiff adequately states a claim for intentional discrimination on the basis of her religion under the Equal Protection Clause against Defendants Cooper and Basta. This claim, however, is inadequately pled against the AHA … because Plaintiff does not allege that the official marriage-certificate policy itself was motivated by animus, but rather, that the Individual Defendants’ enforcement of the policy against her was motivated by animus….There may be an argument that Defendant’s marriage-certificate policy might not be narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling state interest if it fails to recognize a marriage that lacks a civil certificate but is nevertheless legally valid. At this time, however, Plaintiff has not alleged that her marriage was legally-valid…. Additionally, Plaintiff has not alleged that the marriage-certificate policy burdens a sincerely held religious belief. Thus, at this time, this First Amendment theory is inadequately pled.



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