Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Another federal court rules against DOMA

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York issued a 2-1 decision today (Thursday, October 18) that a key provision of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage is unconstitutional because it violates equal protection.

Evan Wolfson, president of the national group Freedom to Marry, said in a statement, “Today’s ruling is the second by a federal appellate court and the tenth ruling in a row from judges appointed by presidents from Nixon to Reagan to George W. Bush, all agreeing that this disgraceful and discriminatory gay exception to the way the federal government treats married couples must end. The Supreme Court should swiftly agree to hear one or more of these cases and definitively strike down the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, removing this harsh, unfair and unconstitutional burden from families, businesses, the military, and others who want to treat all married couples as what they are: married.”

The New York case, Windsor v. U.S., involves Edith Windsor, 83, who is the surviving spouse of a same-sex couple that was married in Canada in 2007, and who was a New York resident at the time of her spouse’s death in 2009.

Windsor, who was taxed more than $363,000, was denied the benefit of the spousal deduction for federal estate taxes solely because Section 3 of DOMA bars the IRS and other agencies from recognizing same-sex marriages, Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs explained in the court’s decision.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce next month whether it will decide on the constitutionality of DOMA. The court is also set to reveal soon whether it will take action on California’s same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8.

According to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-San Francisco) office, Windsor and Thea Spyer had been together for more than 40 years when Spyer died. In a statement, Pelosi criticized House Republicans for wasting nearly $1.5 million defending cases like Windsor v. U.S. and stated, “As a federal appeals court again recognizes that a law denying federal benefits to same-sex married couples is unconstitutional, we move closer to the day when marriage equality is a reality for all.  We look forward to the day when DOMA is ultimately found to be unconstitutional and all of America’s families can enjoy the blessings of equal protection under the law.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, October 18, 2012 @ 10:49 am PST
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