With DOMA Decision, Supreme Court Correctly Recognizes Legal Equality of Gay Couples

Today the Supreme Court ruled the federal government may not discriminate against gay couples recognized by states as married. By throwing out the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which forbade the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, the Supreme Court ruled that DOMA resulted in “deprivation of an essential part of the liberty protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

Although I have not read the entire decision and cannot vouch for all of its reasoning, the court’s description of the case in question illustrates why the ruling is a victory for gay couples in achieving equal legal protection—and for everyone concerned with such protection:

The State of New York recognizes the marriage of New York residents Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, who wed in Ontario, Canada, in 2007. When Spyer died in 2009, she left her entire estate to Windsor. Windsor sought to claim the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses, but was barred from doing so by §3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which amended the Dictionary Act—a law providing rules of construction for over 1,000 federal laws and the whole realm of federal regulations—to define “marriage” and “spouse” as excluding same-sex partners. Windsor paid $363,053 in estate taxes and sought a refund, which the Internal Revenue Service denied.

Congratulations to Windsor, other gay couples, and everyone concerned with equal treatment under the law, for this victory.

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  • Anonymous

    Yeah, this was a good decision. It equalizes homosexuals with others under law concerning marriage. But what’s with a ‘law’, local, state or federal, saying what a ‘marriage’ is? What’s with a ‘law’ or anything ‘legal’ giving rights or privileges to ‘married’ people, queer or straight, not enjoyed by others? What’s a ‘marriage’, anyway? It’s just a contract, like any other contract under contract law. A marriage is whatever is drawn up in a contract by the parties to it. It ain’t what anybody else says it is, not by any means or authority. It ain’t for anybody to confer special rights or privileges upon under ‘law’. Mike Kevitt

  • Anonymous

    Can anyone even answer why government is meddling in a private contract in the first place? Marriage licenses started as a way to prevent non-whites from marrying whites but now the whole concept is offensive. If 2 people want to get “married,” it’s a contract, nothing more, nothing less. A boiler-plate contract for marriage could specify divorce terms, child custody/support, insurance, hospital visitation, &c. The 2 sign the contract, and voila, they’re “married.”

  • Anonymous

    No pair of persons should be denied the benefits that married couples enjoy merely because theirs is not a sexual or romantic union. Who cares? It should not matter if you are a parent who lives with his adult child, a sibling pair, or mere roommates of either sex who share financial responsibilities. Everybody must get the tax benefits that married couples get, or there is NO EQUAL PROTECTION of the law.

    First procreative marriage, then homosexual marriage, and now is the time for CONVENIENT marriage [ Latin: convenient - agreeable to the needs or purpose, to be suitable, come together].

    O maybe It’s time for Objectivists to campaign for defederalizing marriage — privatizing mariage, in fact — and equalizing the legal rights of all cohabitors with jointly owned property, accounts, etc. by making marriage irrelevant to ones tax and benefit status. Let everyone’s status relative to others be defined by mutual agreements among equals.