Tuesday, December 11, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court & Edie Windsor

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in United States v. Windsor challenge to the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) we have a new hero in Edith "Edie" Windsor. In 2007 Edie Windsor & Thea Spyer, residents of New York were married in Toronto, Ontario after being together for 40 years. Windsor had achieved the highest technical rank as a software programmer at IBM & Spyer a clinical psychologist met in the 1960s. In 2009 Thea Spyer died of multiple sclerosis. This was before gay marriage passed in New York but at that time New York legally recognized gay marriages performed in other jurisdictions. Because of DOMA Windsor, 83, was forced to pay more than $363,000 in federal estate taxes. Of course if Spyer had been married to a man instead of a woman no estate tax would have been owed. Since this is totally unconstitutional Windsor sued the U.S. government for a refund. Windsor stated, "When Thea & I met nearly 50 years ago, we never could have dreamed that the story of our life together would be before the Supreme Court as an example of why gay married couples should be treated equally, & not like second-class citizens. While Thea is no longer alive, I know how proud she would have been to see this day. The truth is, I never expected any less from my country." In October the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in an opinion by Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs, held that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional as applied to Windsor. Arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court are likely to take place in March 2013. Windsor is represented by attorneys from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP; the American Civil Liberties Union; the New York Civil Liberties Union & the Stanford Law School Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. Updates to Come…:)

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