DOMA Slammed for Unfair Tax on Gay Widow

Mark In Irvine 2012/06/08 17:40:54
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MANHATTAN (CN) - The Defense of Marriage Act took another hit from a federal judge who said the law unconstitutionally discriminates against gay couples.

Edith Schlain Windsor filed suit after she had to pay $363,053 in federal estate tax when her wife, Thea Spyer, succumbed to multiple sclerosis and a heart condition in 2009.
The couple had been together in New York City since 1963 and married each other in Canada and another jurisdiction where the practice is legal.

Though federal law provides an estate-tax exemption on spousal inheritances, Windsor could not qualify for the benefit under a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Windsor filed suit in 2010, around the same time that a federal judge in Boston
ruled DOMA unconstitutional.

When the Obama administration told Congress that it
no longer defend the law in 2011, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives intervened to defend the statute's constitutionality against Windsor's suit.

In the last year, two federal judges in San Francisco have
slammed the law asunconstitutional.

Windsor's suit achieved the same result Wednesday, rejecting various DOMA justifications, such as claims that it defends the institution of marriage, encourages procreation and preserves scarce government resources.

"To the extent Congress had any other independent interest in approaching same-sex marriage with caution, for much the same reason, DOMA does not further it," U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones. "A number of states now permit same-sex marriages."

Quoting the motion to dismiss Windsor's case, Jones noted that "DOMA did not compel those states to 'wait[] for evidence spanning a longer term before engaging in ... a major redefinition of a foundational social institution.'

"Thus, whatever the 'social consequences' of this legal development ultimately may be, DOMA has not, and cannot, forestall them."

Jones also addressed whether Congress may have enacted DOMA to promote "the ideal family structure for raising children.

"Again, the court does not disagree that promoting family values and responsible parenting are legitimate governmental goals," she wrote. "The court cannot, however, discern a logical relationship between DOMA and those goals.

"These are interests in the choices that heterosexual couples make: whether to get married, and whether and when to have children," she added. "Yet DOMA has no direct impact on heterosexual couples at all; therefore, its ability to deter those couples from having children outside of marriage, or to incentivize couples that are pregnant to get married, is remote, at best. It does not follow from the exclusion of one group from federal benefits (same-sex married persons) that another group of people (opposite-sex married couples) will be incentivized to take any action, whether that is marriage or procreation."

DOMA defenders furthermore cannot claim that various states' marriage laws could create inequality in the qualification for federal benefits, the decision states

"Even if Congress had developed a newfound interest in promoting or maintaining consistency in the marital benefits that the federal government provides, DOMA is not a legitimate method for doing so," Jones wrote. "To accomplish that consistency, DOMA operates to reexamine the states' decisions concerning same-sex marriage. It sanctions some of those decisions and rejects others. But such a sweeping federal review in this arena does not square with our federalist system of government, which places matters at the 'core' of the domestic relations law exclusively within the province of the states."

DOMA's so-called conservation of government resources failed to sway the court as well.

"An interest in conserving the public fisc alone, however, 'can hardly justify the classification used in allocating those resources,'" Jones wrote, quoting Supreme Court precedent. "After all, excluding any 'arbitrarily chosen group of individuals from a government program' conserves government resources. With no other rational basis to support it, Congress' s interest in economy does not suffice."

Jones' final quotation came from a 2011 decision in the DOMA challenge heard by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in San Francisco. doma challenge heard district judge claudia wilken san francisco nbsp

Read More: http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/06/07/47233.htm

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  • beach bum 2012/06/09 14:48:21
    beach bum
    are the taxes paid
  • Mark In... beach bum 2012/06/09 18:44:40
    Mark In Irvine
    yup. see second sentence.
  • beach bum Mark In... 2012/06/10 05:05:57
    beach bum
    and married each other in Canada and another jurisdiction where the practice is legal

    hmmm...was this a way to circumvent the rules
  • Mark In... beach bum 2012/06/10 05:11:06
    Mark In Irvine
    of course not ... since when do the rules say you can't get married in the places where you can marry?
  • beach bum Mark In... 2012/06/10 05:15:11
    beach bum
    ok, i see your point
    ok then can you define marriage in your words
  • Mark In... beach bum 2012/06/10 05:17:24 (edited)
    Mark In Irvine
    marriage is the bond 2 people choose ... my marriage is not diminished one bit by letting two people who love each other wed ...
  • beach bum Mark In... 2012/06/10 05:27:38
    beach bum
    do the decision makers see a gay marriage as a marriage/bond
  • Mark In... beach bum 2012/06/10 05:38:25
    Mark In Irvine
    i suppose we should ask "who are the decision-makers" ... i'm the one who decides/decided to marry my wife, and she who decided to marry me ... if the two of us are willing to give it a shot and stick it out, who else should decide for us?
  • beach bum Mark In... 2012/06/10 05:59:35
    beach bum
    true....personal choice and decision instead of having the decision makers try to do it
  • Mark In... beach bum 2012/06/10 06:00:40
    Mark In Irvine
    life is difficult enough without somebody else telling you whom you may and may not marry ...
  • Zuggi 2012/06/08 18:00:21
    I think that this decision is correct.
    14th Amendment. If the right to a deduction is legal for heterosexual married couples, if a couple is legally married in their state the deduction should be legal for all married couples.
  • Mark In... Zuggi 2012/06/08 18:02:36
    Mark In Irvine
    You have correctly grasped the constitutional principle, Zuggi!!
  • JoeBtfsplk 2012/06/08 17:49:56
    Has she paid the Federal Estate Tax yet?
  • Mark In... JoeBtfsplk 2012/06/08 17:57:32 (edited)
    Mark In Irvine
    You are a clever one: you know that the taxpayer must pay first and THEN sue!! 1,000 points to you, Joe!

    (i'm guessing that she did, but the attached summary doesn't address the point)
  • JoeBtfsplk Mark In... 2012/06/08 18:04:13
    yep, missed that - my bad

    speed reading has it's faults
  • Mark In... JoeBtfsplk 2012/06/08 18:17:22
    Mark In Irvine
    I don't know what you missed, Joe - if you missed, it, I missed it too!
  • JoeBtfsplk Mark In... 2012/06/08 18:28:13
    "Edith Schlain Windsor filed suit after she had to pay $363,053 in federal estate tax"

    she DID pay the tax.
  • Mark In... JoeBtfsplk 2012/06/08 18:30:38 (edited)
    Mark In Irvine
    oops! my bad too! still, you get the 1,000 points for knowing that the taxpayer must pay first and then sue for a refund. you must be associated with CPAs or lawyers, that is, if you're not either one of those.

    on a different subject, what the bleep does "Btfsplk" mean?
  • JoeBtfsplk Mark In... 2012/06/08 18:36:33
    You have to be familiar with Al Capp cartoons;


    JOE BTFSPLK is very simply the world's biggest jinx. He walks around with a perpetually dark rain cloud a foot over his head. Once he appears on any scene, dreadfully bad luck befalls anyone in his vicinity.

    Though well-meaning and gentle, his reputation inevitably precedes him.

    He is also a character with an apparently unpronounceable name, but creator Al Capp pronounced Btfsplk with a "raspberries" sound, also known as a "Bronx cheer."
  • Mark In... JoeBtfsplk 2012/06/08 18:43:21 (edited)
    Mark In Irvine
    Thanks for teaching me something new today.

    i haven't read the "funny papers" in a long time, and don't believe that Al Capp's work has been in my newspapers (Los Angeles Times and New York Times) for quite a while.

    so, where did you learn about "pay then sue"? inquiring minds want to know.
  • JoeBtfsplk Mark In... 2012/06/08 18:55:32
    I wasn't aware of the law to pay first(vaguely recall that is the law, that didn't cross my mind at first read), but as I re-read the article I saw what I missed the first go-round.
  • JoeBtfsplk Mark In... 2012/06/08 18:58:18
    I grew up with the LA Times comic section. Since day one, I have had an uncanny resemblance to Joe Btfsplk.

    Just not the jinx or looks part.

    The cloud? "If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all."
  • Mark In... JoeBtfsplk 2012/06/09 18:47:40
    Mark In Irvine
    and an aficionado of the blues too ... very good!

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