by Rachel L. West, MSW, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer
The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan has ruled that the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. The case was brought by Edith Windsor who sought legal action after her partner of more then 40 years, Thea Spyer, passed away in 2009. The couple who lived in New York State, which did not yet allow same-sex couples to marry but did recognize such marriages performed in other jurisdictions, married in Canada in 2004. After Spyer died Windsor had to pay $363,000 in estate taxes because the Federal government did not recognize the marriage as valid.
DOMA defines marriage as being between one women and one man which means that same-sex couples who can legally marry in their state can not receive the same federal rights and protections that heterosexual couples get from marriage. President Obama has called for DOMA to be overturned. The first Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston also found the law unconstitutional this past spring.
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