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Widow Elated With Gay Marriage Court Ruling

Thursday, June 07, 2012

WNYC

The 82-year-old New Yorker who challenged the federal Defense of Marriage Act said she was thrilled by the judge's ruling in her favor — even though the decision only affects her case and not other same sex-couples in the state for now.

 “I want everyone to profit from this,” Edith Windsor said during a press conference Thursday.

A ruling by U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones’s ruling on Wednesday struck down a key component of the federal law denying federal benefits to spouses in a gay marriage.

Her ruling came just days after a federal appeals court in Boston found the law's denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples unconstitutional. In California, two federal judges found this year that the law violates the due-process rights of legally married same-sex couples.

The issue is likely to reach the Supreme Court.

Windsor and her late partner, Thea Spyer, who had been engaged since 1967 finally married in Canada in 2007. They were together 44 years before Spyer died in 2009.

Windsor didn't qualify for the unlimited marital deduction on her spouse's estate and was required to pay $363,000 in federal estate taxes, which she will get back.

She sued the government in 2010.

"I ask every single couple that I meet who got married I say, ‘Did it feel different the next day?’ Every single one says, ‘Yes,’” she said. “It’s legitimizing in some way."

Attorneys with the ACLU said they expect the decision to be appealed by House Republicans.

James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project said the decision is still huge because it’s part of an emerging consensus among judge’s in the country that DOMA violates the constitution.

Windsor said when she learned she had won the suit, her first impulse was on old one: “Immediately, I wanted to call Thea,” she said.

With the Associated Press

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