NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Edith "Edie" Windsor today commented on the filing today by the law firm of King & Spalding retained by the House of Representatives seeking to formally intervene in her pending lawsuit in the Southern District of New York in order to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal statute that defines marriage for all purposes as a legal union between one man and one woman.
On February 23, 2011, as a result of Edie's case, the U.S. Attorney General made the historic announcement that the U.S. Department of Justice would no longer defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA in court. Having concluded that laws that treat gay men and lesbians differently should be subject to a form of heightened scrutiny, President Obama determined that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional.
"DOMA is so clearly unjust in the way that it treats me as a second class citizen, and I am very disappointed that the House of Representatives has decided to intervene in my case in order to try to prevent me from obtaining a refund of the $363,000 in estate taxes that I should never have had to pay in the first place,” said Ms. Windsor, now 81 years old. "I'm sure that the House's intervention won't change the ultimate result since the court will agree with us, as well as with the President and the Department of Justice, that DOMA is unconstitutional."
Ms. Windsor, who shared four decades with her late spouse, Thea Spyer, filed a lawsuit against the federal government on November 9, 2010 for refusing to recognize their marriage. In the lawsuit, Ms. Windsor alleges that DOMA violates the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution because it recognizes marriages of heterosexual couples for the purpose of federal law, but not those of same-sex couples. When Thea died in 2009, Edie was the sole beneficiary of Thea's estate. Because they were married, Thea's estate ordinarily would have passed for the benefit of Edie, her spouse, without the payment of any estate tax. But because of DOMA, Edie had to pay more than $363,000 in federal estate tax.
Roberta A. Kaplan, an attorney for Ms. Windsor, added, “We are determined to move forward with Edie's case as expeditiously as possible so that the court can rule that all marriages are equal under the law and that DOMA is unconstitutional. Our client, who is not getting any younger, filed her case back in November of last year, and it is clearly time for her to have her day in court."
Edie Windsor's lawsuit was filed by the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, together with the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union.