Bloomberg and Quinn will file joint brief in support of challenge to DOMA
June 21, 2012
Last night, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced plans to join together in support of a challenge to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. The two elected officials will file a joint amicus brief voicing support for Edith Windsor's case in the continuing Windsor v. United States case.
Two weeks ago, U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Jones ruled in the case that Section 3 of DOMA, which defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional. Windsor's case revolved around a discriminatory inheritance tax policy that DOMA requires. In 2009, Windsor's wife Thea Spyer - who she had legally married in Canada in 2007 after living together as a couple in New York for over 40 years - passed away. Spyer left her estate to Windsor, but because the federal government did not recognize the marriage, 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.
Speaker Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg made the announcement last night at Bloomberg's LGBT Pride Month reception in Manhattan. The Advocate reported yesterday:
"We believe that DOMA is unconstitutional because it deprives married gay New Yorkers of equal protection of the laws, and we are filing a brief to support the case against it," said Mayor Bloomberg, who contributed lobbying and fundraising efforts to the campaign to win marriage equality in his state last year.
"Edie Windsor's case is a tragic reminder of the work that still needs to be done to extend equality to all people," said Speaker Quinn, a 2013 mayor frontrunner who married her partner in a ceremony attended by Bloomberg last month. "As Courts across the country continue to strike down DOMA's unconstitutional assault on our civil liberties, I'm proud to join Mayor Bloomberg and the chorus of voices that have called to repeal DOMA once and for all."
The high-profile support from the two popular NYC politicians is another chip against the slowly decaying Defense of Marriage Act. Since May, three federal judges have ruled DOMA unconstitutional, and President Obama and the Department of Justice have refused to defend DOMA for over a year and a half.
Freedom to Marry applauds Bloomberg and Quinn for taking this important step toward supporting legal challenges to DOMA and shining a light on the ways in which it discriminates against same-sex couples and their families.