More than fifteen parties – including New York City, three states, members of Congress, civil rights and religious organizations ––plan to file briefs today in support of Edith “Edie” Windsor’s constitutional challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
After the death of her spouse Thea Spyer, Windsor was forced to pay more than $360,000 in estate taxes that she would not have had to pay had she been married to a man, instead of a woman. Windsor sued the federal government for failing to recognize her marriage. She is represented by attorneys from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP; the American Civil Liberties Union; the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Stanford Law School Supreme Court Litigation Clinic.
In June, a federal district judge in New York ruled in Windsor’s favor that section three of DOMA does “not pass constitutional muster.” Today’s briefs were filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which will hear arguments in the case on September 27, 2012.
“The number and scope of the parties supporting Edie’s case illustrate the breadth of the harms that DOMA inflicts on married same-sex couples,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “It is time for the courts to bring an end to this discriminatory law once and for all.”
Some of the groups filing briefs in support of Windsor include:
- Local governments including the city of New York; and the states of New York, Connecticut and Vermont;
- The Partnership for New York City, a group of CEOs from New York City’s leading businesses;
- 145 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, spearheaded by House Judiciary Members Jerrold Nadler and John Conyers, Jr., along with Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, Jared Polis, David N. Cicilline and Democratic Leaders Nancy Pelosi, Steny H. Hoyer and James E. Clyburn;
- The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund;
- Bar associations and civil rights, religious, cultural and LGBT organizations;
- Social workers and national mental health and medical organizations;
- Labor unions; and
- Professors of U.S. history, family law, and family and child welfare law.
“These amicus briefs show both the widespread support for Edie’s case and the lack of any basis for the constitutionality of DOMA,”said Roberta Kaplan, a partner at Paul, Weiss and counsel to Windsor. “Edie just turned 83 and her health is tenuous. After decades with her late spouse and years of struggle for equal rights, she deserves to see justice within her lifetime.”
“New York is home to more married same-sex couples than any other state,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “It only makes sense that our state and local governments would join the dozens of other groups supporting this case. No committed family should be relegated to second-class status.”
Windsor recently petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States to hear her case as well. The Court has yet to announce whether it will hear this case, or any other challenge to DOMA.
For more information on this case, please visit www.aclu.org/edie.