Edith Windsor, the lesbian widow
challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act
(DOMA), on Tuesday urged the Supreme Court to strike down the law.
Windsor 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.
Quoting from opinions written by
Justice Anthony Kennedy, considered a likely key vote in the case,
lawyers for Windsor wrote: “As this court has already recognized,
laws burdening lesbians and gay men that were 'once thought necessary
and proper' may in fact 'serve only to oppress.'”
“[G]ay couples like Ms. Windsor and
Dr. [Thea] Spyer marry for the same reasons straight couples do –
to express their love and commitment to each other.”
The brief refutes arguments made by the
House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), the legal team
defending the law in court. Specifically, that gay men and lesbians
as a group are politically powerful and not in need of the court's
“The fact that gay couples are the
only legally married couples in the entire nation who cannot benefit
from the wide range of federal benefits provided to all other legally
married couples is itself powerful evidence of gay people's ongoing
political vulnerability,” the Windsor brief states.
Oral arguments in the case are
scheduled to be heard on March 17, and the court is expected to rule
on the case by June.