Another federal judge has declared that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The case is “Edith Schlain Windsor vs. The United States of America.” The plaintiff, Edie Windsor, went to court to get a refund of the estate tax she was required to pay when her same-sex spouse died.
The decision was just issued from the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. Judge Barbara S. Jones wrote that DOMA “required Plaintiff to pay federal estate tax on her same-sex spouse’s estate, a tax from which similarly situated heterosexual couples are exempt.” Windsor’s attorneys argued that, “DOMA violates the Equal Protection principles of the U.S. Constitution because it recognizes existing marriages of heterosexual couples, but not of same-sex couples, despite the fact that New York State treats all marriages the same.”
Judge Jones agreed, awarding Windsor “$353,053.00 plus interest and costs allowed by law.” The judge discounted as unwarranted any conclusion that excluding one group (same-sex couples) from federal benefits would have any effect on motivating the actions of another group (heterosexual couples) regarding either marriage or procreation.
The decision is a refutation of House Speaker John Boehner’s position on the case; last fall, he asserted that Windsor’s homosexuality was a “choice.” At the time, Windsor responded to Boehner by filing an affadavit, stating that her first brief marriage to a man proved otherwise. “What my marriage to Saul Weiner shows is that although I tried to make a ‘choice’ about my sexual orientation by getting married to a man, I was simply unable to do so.”