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United States v. Windsor


Victory for All Married Gay and Lesbian Couples in New York!

Today, June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court decided in United States v. Windsor that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) is unconstitutional because it violates the equal protection and due process principles of the Constitution. Once the decision takes effect, married same-sex couples residing in New York can enjoy the benefits, privileges and obligations of a marriage under federal law. These benefits include: filing joint federal taxes, sponsoring a spouse for immigration benefits, and receiving Social Security, federal pensions and veterans’ benefits.

The decision does not change whether other states have to recognize the validity of a New York marriage of a same-sex couple. We recommend that you contact a lawyer for more information if you are planning on moving out of state.

Look out for an updated Know Your Rights: Frequently Asked Questions About New York’s Marriage Equality Act pamphlet from the NYCLU. If you have any questions, call NYCLU at (212) 607-3300 or e-mail

More Info


On March 27, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in United States v. Windsor regarding the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – a federal statute that defines marriage for all federal purposes as a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.

Because of DOMA, Plaintiff Edie Windsor was saddled with more than $360,000 in federal estate taxes after her beloved spouse, Thea, died in 2009. The federal government would not have imposed those taxes on a married straight couple. Rather than accept this discrimination, Edie filed a lawsuit challenged DOMA’s constitutionality.

The Supreme Court will decide whether DOMA violates equal protection by denying married gay couples more than 1,100 federal benefits and protections.

Click here to read the court filings in the case.

About Edie

Windsor and Spyer lived together for more than four decades in Greenwich Village. Despite not being able to marry legally, they were engaged in 1967. In 1977, Spyer was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and Windsor helped her through her long battle with that disease. They were finally legally married in May 2007.

From the July 16 press release:
“Edie Windsor, who recently celebrated her 83rd birthday, suffers from a serious heart condition,” said Roberta Kaplan, a partner at Paul Weiss and counsel to Ms. Windsor. “Because the District Court’s ruling in her favor is entitled to an automatic stay of enforcement, Edie cannot yet receive a refund of the unconstitutional estate tax that she was forced to pay simply for being gay. The constitutional injury inflicted on Edie should be remedied within her lifetime.”

“The impact of DOMA is felt most dramatically today here in New York,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “At least 10,000 same-sex couples have been married in New York since our marriage law went into effect. But DOMA subjects gay and lesbian married New Yorkers to a form of second-class citizenship. All married couples should have their marriages respected by the federal government, once and for all.”

VIDEO: Windsor speaks at press conference

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