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New York Challenges DOMA in Supreme Court
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On Wednesday, the City of New York filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of an 83-year old woman who is challenging the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act ) definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The woman, Edith Schlain Windsor, a Manhattan resident, had filed a lawsuit against the DOMA in 2010 claiming that the law violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

Edith had married Clara in Canada. Her spouse, Thea Clara Spyer died in 2009, and Edith had to pay more than $350,000 in estate taxes, because the federal government did not recognize the marriage. Edith bypassed the U.S. Court of Appeals earlier this month on grounds of her age and challenged DOMA in the Supreme Court. New York’s amicus brief in support of Edith says that DOM “forces the City to be the unwilling agent of federally-required separate treatment of lawfully-married employees and undermines the City’s strong non-discrimination laws.”

The brief mentions Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who recently married her longtime partner, as amici. On Tuesday, city officials in New York marked the one-year anniversary of the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York State.


On Wednesday, Bloomberg issued a statement saying, “Government has no business treating one group different than another, and New York City will continue to stand against DOMA for such discrimination.”

Currently, there are three cases including the one supported by New York pending before the Supreme Court and challenging the constitutionality of DOMA. U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Jones in Manhattan had ruled last month in Edith’s favor, finding that a DOMA provision discriminated against married same-sex couples. Other federal courts including those of California and Massachusetts have also found the DOMA to be unconstitutional.

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