Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer lived together for over 40 years before deciding to marry in 2007. As state law did not permit same-sex marriage at that time, the two women were forced to fly to Toronto for a legal marriage ceremony. Our NY family lawyer has dug deep into this case, which has been gaining momentum.
Two years after the ceremony had taken place, Thea Spyer died leaving her estate to Edith Windsor. Windsor soon found out that under a 1996 federal law, marriage was defined as the union between a man and a woman and thus she owed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) $363,063 in estate taxes. If this was a heterosexual marriage, she would not have to pay anything for receiving Spyer’s estate. Evidently, this has caused a mixed reaction from people across America.
Our New York Family Lawyers states that this notably ‘landmark’ case comes before the U.S Supreme Court this week as well as another cases that questions the validity of Proposition 8. The Supreme Court must not only decide if the 1996 federal law is unconstitutional, but whether Californian voters violated the rights of gay couples in 2008 when they passed Proposition 8 and outlawed same-sex marriage.
If the Supreme Court decides to strike down the California referendum, the constitutionality of a gay-marriage ban that was approved by voters in Ohio in 2004 will be placed under the limelight once more. However, if the Supreme Court decides to strike down the 1996 federal law and uphold the California referendum, they will be sending out a message that the states have sole authority to create their own marriage laws. This upholds a 1948 decision in which Justice Felix Frankfurter stated –
“Under the Constitution, the regulation and control of marital and family relationships are reserved to the states”
In the papers that were filed with the Supreme Court, it was forewarned that a ruling which invalidated Proposition 8 would “have widespread and immediate negative consequences,” and further noting that it “would have the perverse effect of creating strong disincentives for states to experiment with civil-union or domestic-partnership laws.”
The Supreme Court will hear both cases during a time when the ground has begun to shift dramatically. Recently, Senator Rob Portman from Ohio reversed his judgement on same-sex marriage. It appears to be no coincidence that this occurred after his 21-year-old son admitted that he is gay.
Our New York Family Lawyer agrees that the Supreme Court has a difficult task on their hands. They will be forced to decide, this week between the conflicting notions that “we live in a democratic society in which the will of the majority is the rule” and that “constitutional rights are not subject to popular vote.”
Supreme Court to Make Landmark Decision Regarding Gay Marria