A New York federal judge on Wednesday
declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional.
U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Jones
ruled in favor of Edith “Edie” Windsor, who received an estate
bill of more than $360,000 after the death of her wife Thea Spyer.
Windsor sued, arguing that DOMA, which bars federal agencies from
recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples, violates
the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution.
“[T]he court must consider whether
the government's asserted interests are legitimate,” Jones wrote.
“Pursuant to those established principles, and mindful of the
Supreme Court's jurisprudential cues, the court finds that DOMA's
section 3 does not pass constitutional muster.”
Windsor and Spyer 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 gay
couples could not enter such unions in the Empire State. Spyer died
In a statement released through the
ACLU, Windsor said: “Thea and I shared our lives together for 44
years, and I miss her each and every day. It's thrilling to have a
court finally recognize how unfair it is for the government to have
treated us as though we were strangers.”
The move comes less than a week after a
federal appeals court declared DOMA unconstitutional.