On Wednesday, June 26, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 are unconstitutional. The ruling resulted from a case brought by Edith Windsor, who was faced with an inheritance tax bill of $360,000 when her wife passed away. Had Edith been married to a man rather than a female, she would not have faced the tax as part of an estate or trust administration process.
Following the passing of her wife, Thea Spyer, Edith filed suit in order to force the government to recognize her marriage. The marriage between Windsor and Spyer was recognized under New York law, the state in which they resided. Unfortunately, under DOMA, the federal government effectively deprived her of the same tax benefits that she would have received had she been a heterosexual widow.
The US Supreme Court found in her favor, ruling that legally married, same-sex couples deserve equal federal government footing with all other Americans. The decision also ruled California’s Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional. President Obama released a statement praising the decision of the justices, whose votes ranked 5-4 in the decision. He noted that DOMA and Proposition 8 “treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people,” and supported the Supreme Court’s decision as having “righted that wrong,” stating that “our country is better off for it.”
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