Supporting a Supreme Court Challenge to Marriage Inequality
Today, I was proud to join 211 of my colleagues in the House and Senate in filing an amicus brief supporting marriage equality in the Supreme Court case Untied States vs. Edith Windsor. Edith is challenging the constitutionality of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), which prohibits legally-married gay couples from receiving over 1,000 federal benefits that straight married couples receive. Edith was forced to pay $363,000 in federal estate taxes upon her wife’s death in 2009; if DOMA did not exist and her relationship with her wife had been recognized by the government, she would have been able to keep that money. For many same-sex couples, this tax is financially crippling, often because it is administered as a tax on the value of their home. The outcome of the case will determine whether same-sex couples will enjoy the financial protections that all straight married couples do under the law, such as Social Security survivor benefits and many others pertaining to pensions, the estate tax and health insurance.
The amicus brief we filed expresses our strong conviction that “DOMA imposes a sweeping and unjustifiable federal disability on married same-sex couples.” Many Members of Congress who originally supported DOMA now agree on this matter. In addition to the issue of equal rights, the brief also asserts that marriage equality is beneficial to the country’s “goal of maximizing the financial well-being and independence of widows,” and highlights that this discriminatory law undermines our commitment to our service members and veterans. You can read the full brief here.
Basic fairness demands that all married couples enjoy the fullest range of legal protections that stem from that commitment. I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of marriage equality and help the country take an enormous step towards achieving equal treatment for all Americans.