Challenging the misnamed "Defense of Marriage Act"

On March 27, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court considered a challenge to the federal "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) brought by Edie Windsor, a widow represented by the ACLU and the firm Paul Weiss. Edie, age 83, had to pay more than $360,000 in federal estate taxes after her spouse Thea Spyer died in 2009. The couple spent 44 years together and legally married in New York. If Edie had been married to a man, she would not have had to pay any estate taxes after Thea's death.

On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Edie's challenge to DOMA, finding the law unconstitutional as a deprivation of equal liberty protected by the Fifth Amendment.


Edie Windsor and ACLU Challenge Defense of Marriage Act

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After DOMA: What it Means For You
This fact sheet series details many of the ways federal agencies accord legal respect to married same-sex couples on the following topics: bankruptcy, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), federal employee benefits, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), immigration, Medicaid, Medicare, military spousal benefits, private employment benefits, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, taxes, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and veteran spousal benefits.

Case Background

Windsor v. US



Supreme Court rules in favor of ACLU client Edie Windsor's challenge to "Defense of Marriage Act"
ACLU of Massachusetts news release


The Supreme Court should seize this opportunity to make history
Patriot Ledger


Latest updates on Supreme Court hearings on marriage equality
The New York Times

The biggest takeaways from inside the Supreme Court's DOMA hearing
The Advocate

Audio of the oral arguments
The Supreme Court

Ms. Windsor goes to Washington
On Liberty blog


How the Supreme Court should rule on DOMA


Same-sex marriage — protecting equality under law
The Boston Globe


Windsor v. the United States aka the ACLU v. DOMA
ACLU of Massachusetts - Civil Liberties Minute Podcast


Edith Windsor's pioneering life, from Portofino to the Supreme Court
New York Magazine


Reveling in Her Supreme Court Moment
The New York Times


Gay marriage case: A long time coming for Edie Windsor
USA Today


US supreme court agrees to take up two gay marriage cases
The Guardian


Court: Heart of gay marriage law unconstitutional
Associated Press

Learn more about the ACLU's work for LGBT equality here in Massachusetts and across the country, and visit our timeline of important milestones for LGBT issues.