Very Long Engagement

Federal Judge Rules DOMA Unconstitutional In Case Involving Widowed Lesbian

Yesterday a federal judge in New York ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act discriminated against married same-sex couples, bringing the number of court decisions that have struck down DOMA on constitutional grounds to four.

In a lawsuit, Edie Windsor claimed DOMA violates the Constitution’s equal-protection guarantee because it requires the government to treat legally married gay couples as if they were, in fact, not married.

Windsor wed Thea Spyer, her partner of more than 40 years, in Canada in 2007, two years before Spyer’s death. They were considered married by their home state of New York but because the federal government didn’t recognize their union, Windsor had to pay more than $350,000 in estate taxes after Spyer’s passing.

Normally married partners are exempt from federal estate taxes.

“Thea and I shared our lives together for 44 years, and I miss her each and every day,” Windsor said. “It’s thrilling to have a court finally recognize how unfair it is for the government to have treated us as though we were strangers.”

“Although we expect the attorneys for the House of Representatives to appeal today’s decision, we are confident that it will be affirmed on appeal,” said Windsor’s attorney, Roberta A. Kaplan.”We hope that the court will do so expeditiously, given that our client is 83 years old.”

Below, the trailer from Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement, a 2009 documentary about Spyer and Windsor.


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  • robert in nyc

    DOMA must go, NOW!

    On a cheerful note, Denmark today became the 11th country legalize same-sex marriage! Well done!

  • 1equalityUSA

    This lady should have been allowed time to grieve the passing of her partner of 44 years, not become embroiled in legalities. DOMA is a disgrace and for every day that passes, it continues to cause unnecessary pain and suffering for a select few Americans. She ought to be able to sue the government for emotional damages. This makes me sick.

  • Carl 1

    @robert in nyc: Denmark has legalised marriage in church. They already had civil marriage equality, since 1989 I believe. They were the first.

    Doma is a disgrace and hopefully this case will be one of the nails in its coffin.

  • Robert in NYC

    @Carl 1: Carl, Denmark was the first country to legalize civil unions in 1989, not same-sex marriage. It attempted to pass it in 2006 I believe but failed. Next stop to legalize it, UK, France and probably Australia.

  • n900mixalot

    Way to go NY … the truth is, DOMA is ridiculous because it steps all over states’ rights. It doesn’t make sense!

  • Carl 1

    @Robert in NYC: My history fail, I honestly thought they had civil marriage ages ago and this was just bringing in religious marriage.

  • LaTeesha

    Rich white gay men are bad, bad, bad. But no complaints about rich white gay women from the peanut gallery. Curious.

  • robert in nyc

    @Carl 1: Carl, you’re not alone, many other people thought Denmark had equal marriage years ago. You would have thought though that it would have had it before any other country, at least before Holland became the first. Better late than never. Marriage equality is snowballing in Europe at a faster pace than ever imagined.

  • Out Military

    Thanks to DOMA legally married same-sex military spouses are denied health insurance, commissary and other base privileges, housing allowance, etc. as compared with their opposite-sex married counterparts. For those interested – has been providing a supportive environment for friending, sharing and networking between Gay active military, vets and supporters since December, 2010.

  • LubbockGayMale

    Why hasn’t the far-right just given up on this matter? I guess because if they quit fighting, then they’ll have tacitly agreed there’s nothing wrong with GLBT folks, and we’re entitled to equal protection under the law WITHOUT special laws being written.

Comments are closed.