Edie Windsor Vs. DOMA
By Jerry Portwood
You might have first learned of Edie Windsor, 83, in the documentary, Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement. Or perhaps you remember Edie from the Out story in 2011. The love story explains how Edie met Thea Spyer in 1965, and the couple finally married in Toronto in 2007. But after Thea's death in 2009, Windsor suffered a $350,000 penalty in federal estate taxes that would have been avoided if they were a heterosexual couple.
No matter what, you should remember that Edie Windsor filed a lawsuit in November 2010, with the aid of the ACLU, challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife. And now her case is picking up more steam.
On June 6, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York sided with Windsor. As HuffPo reports, "This week, her lawyers filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to take her case and let her skip what would be the usual next step of going before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit." On June 13, Windsor filed a motion to expedite that appeal.
On Monday Attorney Roberta Kaplan said, "Edie and Thea were together for more than four decades and truly lived the words 'in sickness and in health, until death do us part.' Solely because of DOMA, Edie had to pay more than $363,000 in federal estate tax, which is one of the most significant adverse impacts of DOMA. Edie, who just turned 83, suffers from a chronic heart condition. The constitutional injury inflicted on Edie should be remedied within her lifetime."
Windsor has said that the lawsuit has revived her reason to live after losing Spyer. "I was anguished about the money, but it was more about the indignation," Windsor said in a recent interview. "The government was not recognizing us, and we deserved recognition."
As the Supreme Court decides whether to accept to hear one of the DOMA challenges or the constitutionality of Prop 8, legal scholars think the DOMA challenges, such as Windsor's case, have a better chance since it asks a more narrow question of legality. For her sake, we hope Windsor's case is taken up before it's too late.
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