Two-hundred-and-twelve members of
Congress have signed on to a brief urging the Supreme Court to strike
down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage for
federal agencies as a heterosexual union, thereby excluding gay
couples from all marriage-based federal responsibilities, rights and
A total of 172 House members and 40
senators signed on to the brief filed in the case Windsor v.
Edith “Edie” Windsor, the lesbian
widow at the center of the case, sued the federal government after
she received an estate bill of more than $360,000 resulting from the
death of her wife Thea Spyer.
The women shared their lives for 44
years and married in Toronto, Canada in 2007. In 2009, New York
began recognizing the marriages of gay couples, although the state
did not legalize such unions until 2011. Spyer died in 2009.
“The goal of maximizing the financial
well-being and independence of widows is not furthered by depriving
Edie Windsor and others like her of the estate-tax exemption that
other married Americans receive,” the brief argues. “The policy
of encouraging employers to provide family health benefits is not
served either by denying to employers the tax deduction for providing
those benefits to married gay and lesbian couples or by refusing to
cover spouses of gay and lesbian federal employees. Our national
security is undermined by denying spousal benefits to gay and lesbian
servicemembers, especially during periods of armed conflict. Our
veterans are dishonored when we deny them the right to have their
spouses buried alongside them in our national cemeteries.”
the full brief.)
Lead signatories include: Nancy Pelosi,
Steny H. Hoyer, James E. Clyburn, Jerrold Nadler, John Conyers, Jr.,
Harry Reid, Richard J. Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, Patrick J. Leahy,
Charles E. Schumer, Patty Murray, Jared Polis, David N. Cicilline,
Sean Patrick Maloney, Mark Pocan, Kyrsten Sinema, Mark Takano.