Legal Blog

Revisiting the Supreme Court’s Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

DOMAWhen Edith Windsor’s spouse passed away in 2009, Windsor elected the estate tax exemption for surviving spouses. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) denied her request under Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), leaving Windsor with an estate tax obligation of more than $300,000. You see, Windsor married Thea Spyer in 2007 in Canada. However, Section 3 of DOMA defines marriage as between a man and woman. Thus, the IRS denied Windsor’s request.

Windsor filed suit.

United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. ___ (June 26, 2013), (Docket No. 12-307)

In late June, the United States Supreme Court ruled on DOMA, declaring it to be unconstitutional in a 5-4 decision. The Act was found to be a “deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment,” which guarantees equal protection for same-sex partners.

This ruling should open the door for same-sex couples to receive equal benefits, rights and protections. Same-sex couples can now file joint tax returns, sponsor a same-sex partner for United States’ residency, and same-sex widows and widowers can receive Social Security survivor benefits. The list goes on and on.

DOMAIf you have any questions about the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), please contact Offit Kurman family law attorney Sandra Brooks at sbrooks@offitkurman.com or 240.507.1716. Sandra has dedicated her time to assisting clients in domestic law matters including divorce, child custody and visitation, family mediation, spousal and child support, property division, and division of retirement benefits.

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Sources:

A Summary of the Supreme Court’s Ruling in the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) Case