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.