For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Robyn Shepherd, ACLU national, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666; media@aclu.org
Renée Soto/Meghan Stafford, Sard Verbinnen & Co, (212) 687-8080
Jennifer Carnig, New York Civil Liberties Union, (212) 607-3363 / (845) 553-0349

Federal Appeals Court Hears Arguments in Widow’s Challenge to DOMA

NEW YORK - The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unfairly forced Edith “Edie” Windsor to pay more than $360,000 in federal estate tax after the death of her spouse, Thea Spyer, that she would not have had to pay had she been married to a man, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit was told today.

In June, a federal judge ruled for Windsor that section three of DOMA, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, does “not pass constitutional muster.” The House of Representatives’ Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), which had intervened to defend the constitutionality of DOMA, appealed that decision. Windsor’s attorneys have also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her case.

Windsor, 83, is represented by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP; the American Civil Liberties Union; and the New York Civil Liberties Union.

“Edie and Thea were as committed to each other as any other married couple and saw each other through good times and bad,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “After suffering the loss of her spouse, it’s cruel for the government to slap Edie with a bill that treats her and Thea as if they were legal strangers.”

More information about this case can be found at: www.aclu.org/edie

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