New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and lesbian New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn have joined the growing choir of individuals calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.
On Thursday, attorneys representing the City of New York — as well as Bloomberg and Quinn in their official capacities — filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking the justices to take up lesbian Edith Windsor’s challenge to DOMA, known as Windsor v. United States.
Windsor, a New York City widow, had to pay nearly $363,000 in federal estates taxes upon the death of her spouse, Thea Spyer, in 2009 because of Section 3 of DOMA, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage.
The 14-page brief calls DOMA “the last remaining obstacle to achieving legal equality between the city’s married couples” while making the case to strike down the anti-gay law.
“Solely because of DOMA, Edith Windsor was required to pay more than $363,000 in federal estate tax on her legal spouse’s estate,” the brief states. “If Ms. Windsor’s spouse had been a man, the marital exemption provided by federal law would have applied and she would not have owed any federal estate taxes at all. As a result of DOMA, thousands of legally married same-sex couples in the New York City are being subjected to this type of disparate treatment because their legal marriages are not recognized under federal law.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of Windsor, has already filed a request with the Supreme Court calling on justices to take up the lawsuit and overturn DOMA. Windsor has already seen some success. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York already ruled in her favor and ordered that Windsor be refunded the $363,000 in taxes she had paid.
The request from New York City is one of several calling on the Supreme Court to review DOMA. Both supporters and defenders of the law have made requests to the Supreme Court, including the House Republican-led Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, which took up legal defense of DOMA after the Obama administration announced it would no longer defend it, and the Justice Department, which has since been actively litigation against DOMA.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has also asked the Supreme Court to review and strike down DOMA on the basis that it violates a state’s right to regulate marriage under the Tenth Amendment as has Lambda Legal in the case of Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management.
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