New York, New York, June 7, 2012 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed yesterday's decision by a Manhattan-based federal judge declaring a key section of the 1996 "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) unconstitutional. The decision marked the first time a New York-based federal court has held DOMA unconstitutional.
In the decision, U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones of the Southern District of New York ruled that Section 3 of DOMA violates the U.S. Constitution in requiring a same-sex spouse to pay a federal estate tax from which heterosexual spouses are exempt.
"This decision is another strong confirmation that the principle of equal treatment means that same-sex couples are entitled to all of the federal rights, protections and benefits of civil marriage," said Ron Meier, ADL New York Regional Director.
The decision came in Windsor v. U.S., a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Edith Windsor, who married her spouse, Thea Spyer, in Canada in 2007. Spyer died in 2009 following a long illness. Because Section 3 of DOMA prohibits the federal government from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples, Windsor was unable to claim the estate tax deduction available to the spouses of straight married couples and was required to pay more than $350,000 in taxes.
The decision comes on the heels of a 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last week also declaring DOMA's definition of marriage unconstitutional.