1 year ago, a district court judge found DOMA unconstitutional in Edie Windsor case
June 06, 2013
One year ago today, Edith Windsor, the 83-year-old at the center of a landmark Supreme Court case challenging the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, took a huge step forward in her attempts to overturn DOMA.
On June 6, 2012, U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Jones ruled in Windsor v. United States that DOMA's Section 3, the section that defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional. DOMA is the law that prohibits federal respect for legal marriages between same-sex couples.
The positive ruling in Windsor's case moved her challenge further along through the legal road to the Supreme Court, and just a few months later, on October 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York upheld Judge Jones' ruling, clearing the way for Edith and her lawyers to take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The nation's highest court heard oral arguments in the case in March, and now, the entire country awaits the ruling, which is expected soon.
Edie's case, of course, dates back to November 2010, when the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, working with the American Civil Liberties Union, filed suit on behalf of Edith Windsor. Windsor, a resident of New York state, had legally married Thea Spyer in Canada in 2007 after the two had lived together as a couple in New York for over 40 years. Two years after the marriage, Spyer passed away, and she left her estate to Windsor.
Because the federal government did not recognize Windsor's marriage to Spyer, Windsor was forced to pay a $363,000 federal inheritance tax. Had their marriage been accorded the same status under federal law as a different-sex marriage, Windsor would have paid $0 in taxes.
We're awaiting a ruling any day now from the Supreme Court, but in the past six months since the Court announced it would hear Windsor's case, marriage advocates have continued making the case for why marriage matters and how DOMA hurts. Three states - Minnesota, Delaware, and Rhode Island, ended the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, and married couples - including servicemembers, binational couples, couples in southern states, and older couples, expressed the unique ways that DOMA hurts their families.
By the end of the month, we hope to see the Supreme Court stand on the Right Side of History by overturning DOMA and ending federal marriage discrimination once and for all.
Learn more about marriage at the Supreme Court HERE.