Title

United States v Windsor - Should Federal Law Define Marriage?

Presenter Information

Jordyn Ashford

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC 137A

Start Date

16-5-2013

End Date

16-5-2013

Abstract

The case of United States v. Edith Windsor presents the issue of a potential violation of the Fifth Amendment, which provides for equal legal protection to all citizens of the United States. Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defines marriage as a “legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” This excludes homosexual couples from being considered legally married in the eyes of the federal government. After 40 years together Edith Windsor and her partner Thea Spyer, residents of New York, married in Canada. Upon Spyer’s death Windsor was required to pay $363,000 in estate taxes in order to receive Spyer’s property. Had federal law recognized their marriage, like a heterosexual married couple, Windsor would have been refunded the estate tax. Windsor filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. She requested a refund of the estate taxes, claiming DOMA violated the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Though President Obama agrees the law is unconstitutional, Senate Republicans elected to defend the law in court. The outcome of this case could result in the federal re-definition of marriage to include same-sex marriages. This could afford same sex couples the federal benefits that heterosexual couples receive such as health insurance, federal pensions and Social Security benefits. Although the Court’s decision is not expected until the end of June this presentation will predict the possible direct and indirect implications of the two most likely outcomes.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Sue Armstrong

Additional Mentoring Department

Law and Justice

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May 16th, 9:30 AM May 16th, 10:50 AM

United States v Windsor - Should Federal Law Define Marriage?

SURC 137A

The case of United States v. Edith Windsor presents the issue of a potential violation of the Fifth Amendment, which provides for equal legal protection to all citizens of the United States. Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defines marriage as a “legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” This excludes homosexual couples from being considered legally married in the eyes of the federal government. After 40 years together Edith Windsor and her partner Thea Spyer, residents of New York, married in Canada. Upon Spyer’s death Windsor was required to pay $363,000 in estate taxes in order to receive Spyer’s property. Had federal law recognized their marriage, like a heterosexual married couple, Windsor would have been refunded the estate tax. Windsor filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. She requested a refund of the estate taxes, claiming DOMA violated the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Though President Obama agrees the law is unconstitutional, Senate Republicans elected to defend the law in court. The outcome of this case could result in the federal re-definition of marriage to include same-sex marriages. This could afford same sex couples the federal benefits that heterosexual couples receive such as health insurance, federal pensions and Social Security benefits. Although the Court’s decision is not expected until the end of June this presentation will predict the possible direct and indirect implications of the two most likely outcomes.