The Defense of Marriage Act's denial of equal benefits to same-sex couples violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment, Southern District Judge Barbara Jones (See Profile) ruled yesterday.
Becoming the fourth Article 3 judge to find Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the U.S. Constitution, Judge Jones granted summary judgment to Edith Windsor, who sued the government for failing to recognize her marriage to her partner Thea Spyer, after Spyer's death in 2009. Windsor and Spyer were married in Canada in 2007.Spyer left all of her property to Windsor, including the apartment they shared. Spyer's estate normally would have passed to her spouse without any estate tax. But DOMA prevents recognition of same-sex marriages and Windsor was assessed more than $363,000 in federal estate taxes.