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Breaking: Federal appeals court rules Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional

October 18, 2012

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals just issued its opinion in Windsor v. USA, and concluded that Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional because it violates equal protection. The 2-1 ruling applied heightened scrutiny in the opinion.

Edie Windsor with her legal team. (Photo Credit New York Civil Liberties Union)

The law had been challenged by Edith “Edie” Windsor, who sued the federal government for failing to recognize her marriage to her partner Thea Spyer, after Spyer’s death in 2009. Windsor and Spyer, who were a couple for 44 years, were married in Canada in 2007, and were considered married by their home state of New York. Windsor has petitioned the Supreme Court to hear her case and the question of the constitutionality of DOMA may be heard by the high court this term.

Windsor’s lawsuit was filed by the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union.

“Yet again, a federal court has found that it is completely unfair to treat married same-sex couples as though they’re legal strangers,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU LGBT Project. “Edie and Thea were there for each other in sickness and in health like any other married couple, and it’s unfair for the government to disregard both their marriage and the life they built together and treat them like second-class citizens.”

We’ll keep you updated on action at the Supreme Court around DOMA, but you can also join us now by telling Congress to repeal this discriminatory law.

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