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 2009.

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.