The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled today that the Defense
of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutionally discriminates against married
The case was brought to the court by Edith "Edie" Windsor. Windsor's
wife, Thea Spyer, died in 2009 and she left all of her property to her
spouse. While deceased spouse's estate typically would go to the surviving
spouse without any estate tax, DOMA prevents the federal government from
recognizing the state-recognized legal marriages of same-sex couples.
Windsor had to pay $363,000 in federal estate taxes as a result. More after the jump.
By striking down DOMA, the Second Circuit court held that government discrimination
against same-sex married couples is now is assumed to be unconstitutional.
Lawyers defending DOMA were not able to provide a constitutional grounds
for treating married same-sex couples differently than heterosexual married couples.
The American Civil Liberties Union also notes that "This is the first
federal appeals court decision to decide that government discrimination
against gay people gets a more exacting level of judicial review, known
as 'heightened scrutiny.'"