The case & decision that began the rapid change in equal rights for gay couples, Including the Scalia dissent.
"DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment. DOMAÃ¢Â€Â™s principal effect is to identify and make unequal a subset of state-sanctioned marriages. It contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their State, but not others, of both rights and responsibilities, creating two contradictory marriage regimes within the same State. It also forces same-sex couples to live as married for the purpose of state law but unmarried for the purpose of federal law, thus diminishing the stability and predictability of basic personal relations the State has found it proper to acknowledge and protect."
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1 (Slip Opinion) OCTOBER TERM, 2012
NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is
being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.
The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been
prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
UNITED STATES v. WINDSOR, EXECUTOR OF THE
ESTATE OF SPYER, ET AL.
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR
THE SECOND CIRCUIT
No. 12â€“307. Argued March 27, 2013â€”Decided June 26, 2013
The State of New York recognizes the marriage of New York residents
Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, who wed in Ontario, Canada, in
2007. When Spyer died in 2009, she left her entire estate to Windsor.
Windsor sought to claim the federal estate tax exemption for surviv-
ing spouses, but was barred from doing so by Â§3 of the federal De-
fense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which amended the Dictionary Actâ€”a
law providing rules of construction for over 1,000 federal laws and
the whole realm of federal regulationsâ€”to define â€œmarriageâ€ and
â€œspouseâ€ as excluding same-sex partners. Windsor paid $363,053 in
estate taxes and sought a refund, which the Internal Revenue Service
denied. Windsor brought this refund suit, contending that DOMA vi-
olates the principles of equal protection incorporated in the Fifth
Amendment. While the suit was pending, the Attorney General noti-
fied the Speaker of the House of Representatives that the Depart-
ment of Justice would no longer defend Â§3â€™s constitutionality. In re-
sponse, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) of the House of
Representatives voted to intervene in the litigation to defend Â§3â€™s
constitutionality. The District Court permitted the intervention. On
the merits, the court ruled against the United States, finding Â§3 un-