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What is DOMA and What Does the Supreme Court Ruling Mean to Same-Sex Couples?

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a law enacted by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1996. Section 3 of DOMA declares that marriage is defined as the union between one man and one woman, for federal purposes.

DOMA left to individual States to decide whether they would permit same-sex marriages, but for Federal purposes, the federal government would not recognize same-sex marriage.

In June, 2013, the Supreme Court declared Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional in a 5-4 landmark decision. The Supreme Court ruled that DOMA punishes same sex couples for their decisions to marry and demeans their standing in the community and that of their children as well.

The Supreme Court ruled that DOMA denied same-sex couples the equal protection of the laws under the 14th Amendment as the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution, set forth in Amendment 5 to the U.S. Constitution.

Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well The Court stated that individual States of the United States remain free to decide whether or not same sex couples can marry, and as of the date of the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court only 11 States and the District Of Columbia permitted same sex marriages.

The name of the case is United States v. Windsor, executor of the Estate of Spier, et. al.(and others).In the Windsor case, Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer met in New York City in1963 and began a long-term relationship. Windsor and Spyer registered as domestic partners when New York City gave that right to same-sex couples in 1993.

Concerned about Spyer’s health, the couple made the 2007 trip to Canada for their marriage, but they continued to reside in New York City. The State of New York deems their Ontario marriage to be a valid one. See 699 F. 3d 169, 177–178 (CA2 2012).

Spyer died in February 2009, and left her entire estate to Windsor. Because DOMA denies federal recognition to same-sex spouses, Windsor did not qualify for the marital exemption from the federal estate tax, which excludes from taxation “any interest in property which passes or has passed from the decedent to his surviving spouse.” 26 U. S. C. §2056(a).

Windsor paid $363,053 in estate taxes and sought a refund. The Internal Revenue Service denied the refund, concluding that, under DOMA, Windsor was not a “surviving spouse.” Windsor commenced a refund suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. She contended that DOMA violates the guarantee of equal protection, as applied to the Federal Government through the Fifth Amendment.

The Supreme Court held that DOMA did indeed violate equal protection of the laws as set forth in the 14th the provisions of which are incorporated into the 5th Constitution, which regulates the conduct of the Federal Government. The WINDSOR decision makes it clear, that the Federal Government cannot discriminate against same-sex couples when it comes to Federal Benefits.

Amendment to the United States Constitution, Amendment to the U.S. ONE SUCH FEDERAL BENEFIT is the right of same sex couples to apply for status under the IMMIGRATION LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES.


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What is DOMA and What Does the Supreme Court Ruling Mean to
Same-Sex Couples?

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Her to the US?

Can My Same-Sex Partner From
Another Country Be My Fiancee, and
if so, Can I Bring Him or Her to the US?

What Are the Requirements for a
Fiancee K-1 Visa?

How Much Does It Cost To File A K-1 Fiancee Visa, and How Long Does It Take To Obtain One?

How does my fiancee apply for work authorization and lawful permanent resident (green card) status?

Same-Sex Immigration and Children
of a Fiancee or Spouse

Can My Lawfully Permanent Resident Spouse Gain US Citizenship Through
His or Her Marriage to Me?

Are the Procedures for Fiancees,
Lawful Permanent Residents, Their Children, And Procedures For
Obtaining US Citizenship the Same
As or Different From Those For Heterosexual Couples?

Pennsylvania Law
Daniel M.Pell

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Suite 305 York, PA 17402

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Daniel Pell is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, 2013