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30 Days of Pride: Edie Windsor

June 1st kicked off Pride Month! So for the next 30 days let's recognize the people who played pivotal roles in LGBTQ History.

DAY SEVENTEEN 👉 EDIE WINDSOR

"Edie Windsor married Thea Spyer. After Thea’s death on February 5, 2009, Windsor became the executor and sole beneficiary of Spyer's estate, via a revocable trust. Windsor was required to pay $363,053 in federal estate taxes on her inheritance of her wife's estate. Had federal law recognized the validity of their marriage, Windsor would have qualified for an unlimited spousal deduction and paid no federal estate taxes. Windsor sought to claim the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses. She was barred from doing so by Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA (codified at 1 U.S.C. § 7), which provided that the term "spouse" only applied to marriages between a man and woman.

The Internal Revenue Service found that the exemption did not apply to same-sex marriages, denied Windsor's claim, and compelled her to pay $363,053 in estate taxes. In 2010 Windsor filed a lawsuit against the federal government in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeking a refund because DOMA singled out legally married same-sex couples for "differential treatment compared to other similarly situated couples without justification." In 2012, Judge Barbara S. Jones ruled that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional under the due process guarantees of the Fifth Amendment and ordered the federal government to issue the tax refund, including interest. The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in a 2–1 decision later in 2012.

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case in March 2013, and in June of that year issued a 5–4 decision affirming that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional "as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment." 

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