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A Federal Appeals Court Rules Against DOMA

It’s the second court to do so

Adam Chandler
October 19, 2012
Edie Windsor(Washington Blade)
Edie Windsor(Washington Blade)

A few weeks ago, Tablet senior writer and national treasure Allison Hoffman wrote about the case of Edie Windsor, an 83-year-old widow, who appeared federal appeals judges to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and “give her back the $363,053 in estate taxes she had to pay because her 2007 marriage to Thea Spyer, who died in 2009, was not recognized by the United States government.” Windsor found her fair share of allies in the Jewish community.

Her appeal has attracted support from New York state and local officials, as well as from House Democrats, but she also has the backing of Jewish organizations like the Anti-Defamation League and Hadassah, and of the Conservative and Reform movements, which argue that the act confuses civil and religious marriage, and impinges on their religious authority, already exercised, to officiate and recognize same-sex marriages.

Yesterday, a New York Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional, the second such ruling against the 1996 act defining “marriage” and “spouse” as between a man and a woman.

For the first time, a 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the standing of homosexuals justifies heightened scrutiny in laws like DOMA because the group meets four factors, including that they “have historically endured persecution and discrimination” and remain “a politically weakened minority.”

Next likely stop: The Supreme Court.

Earlier: Jewish Organizations Join DOMA Appeal
A New York Court Rules DOMA Unconstitutional [NYMag]

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.