U.S. District Court for Southern District of New York Holds that Section 3 of DOMA is Unconstitutional
Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Jones became the fourth federal district court judge to
Similarly to the First Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision last week, Judge Jones declined to apply a heightened scrutiny standard (in which it is the government’s burden to defend the constitutionality of the law in question). Nevertheless, Judge Jones held that, even under the lowest rational basis standard (in which the law in question is presumed to be constitutional unless proven otherwise), there are no legitimate government interests that would justify upholding DOMA.
As a result, Judge Jones held that the plaintiff, Edie Windsor, was unlawfully discriminated against when she was forced to pay taxes on property she inherited from her deceased wife, Thea Spyer. Such payment would not have been required had Ms. Windsor been married to a man because of the so-called federal marital deduction, which allows spouses to transfer an unlimited amount of assets to one another during lifetime and at death without incurring any taxes.
Click here to read the full decision.
In a statement released by her attorneys yesterday, Ms. Windsor said:
Thea and I shared our lives together for 44 years, and I miss her each and every day. It’s thrilling to have a court finally recognize how unfair it is for the government to have treated us as though we are strangers.
The couple was the subject of the poignant, award-winning documentary, “Edie and Thea, A Very Long Engagement.” Click here to view a trailer for this film.
This decision is, indeed, thrilling, because it confirms that, no matter how you look at it, denying federal benefits to same-sex married couples is discriminatory and harmful to real couples and their families. It’s time to end this unconstitutional, unfair, and purposeless law once and for all.