The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled that section three of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution. Section three defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The opinion was written by conservative Republican appointee Dennis Jacobs, the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Anti-marriage laws have been struck down by three federal courts of appeals, four federal district courts, and one federal bankruptcy court. These rulings have been signed by seven circuit court judges, six district court judges, and twenty bankruptcy court judges.
This case involves Edith Windsor, who in 2007 married Thea Spyer in Canada, who was her life partner for more than 40 years. The couple were legal residents of New York, and when Spyer passed away, Windsor was assessed with $363,000 in federal estate taxes. She expected a refund because the couple was married, but the IRS denied the claim on the grounds that she was not a “spouse” as defined by DOMA.
The American Foundation for Equal Rights, who are the sole sponsor and plaintiff's in the federal court challenge of California’s Proposition 8 lawsuit, issued a statement lauding the ruling. AFER Executive Director Adam Umhoefer said:
Today’s decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit continues the unceasing momentum toward marriage equality for all Americans and affirms that discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans is unfair, unjust, and unconstitutional. The body of evidence in support of marriage equality is clear and convincing. This decision, as well previous decisions in other DOMA cases and in our federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, signals that the arguments opposing the recognition of marriage for gay and lesbian Americans have no legal basis. With today’s ruling, we areI wonder how Romney feels about marriage equality today. He’s never met an issue that he hasn’t supported, then disavowed, and then who knows?
Regardless - this is terrific news for Edith Windsor, our community, and for marriage equality supporters here and around the world.
VIA Purpleunions.com - The Gay Marriage Watch Blog
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