Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Politics

Lead Defense of Marriage Act plaintiff revels in Supreme Court decision

Lead DOMA plaintiff rejoices

Edith Windsor, lead plaintiff in the Defense of Marriage Act case, was ecstatic after the court's decision, saying her "immediate reaction was just tears. We won and got everything we hoped for." Referring to Thea Spyer, her spouse whom she married in 2007 and who died in 2009, Windsor said, "If I had to survive Thea, what a glorious way to do it." Earlier in the day, Windsor was at the apartment of her attorney, Roberta Kaplan, when President Barack Obama called, according to the New Yorker. Kaplan handed the phone to Windsor. "Hello, who am I talking to?" said Windsor, 83. "Oh, Barack Obama? I wanted to thank you. I think your coming out for us made such a difference throughout the country." Windsor also is now due $363,053 — plus interest — from the U.S. Treasury. That is the amount that Spyer's estate paid in taxes upon her death in 2009. Had she and Windsor been a heterosexual married couple, there would have been no tax due.

Marriage opponents vow to carry on fight

Opponents of same-sex marriage said the court had badly overreached in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, and they vowed to press on against same-sex marriage in the courts and through a constitutional ban. "This doesn't end it," said Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas. "If anything, it's been ignited and continues to be discussed." Outside the Supreme Court, Brian Brown, the head of the National Organization for Marriage, acknowledged that his group's fight against same-sex marriage was increasingly uphill. "Obviously it's a loss to say that the federal government has no right to define marriage as it's always understood," he said. "It is just legal chicanery. It's untrue." But he insisted that same-sex marriage opponents had scored a victory in the case involving California's ban, Proposition 8. The justices issued a ruling that ensured a return to same-sex marriage only in California.

Justice Dept. working quickly on DOMA

Attorney General Eric Holder praised the Supreme Court's DOMA decision and pledged to work quickly to implement it but said that the fight for equality continues. "This decision impacts a broad array of federal laws. At the president's direction, the Department of Justice will work expeditiously with other Executive Branch agencies to implement the court's decision," he said. "Despite this momentous victory, our nation's journey — towards equality, opportunity and justice for everyone in this country — is far from over. Important, life-changing work remains before us."

Gay military spouses to get benefits

The same-sex spouses of members of the military will start getting federal benefits "as soon as possible," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement. "The Department of Defense welcomes the Supreme Court's decision today on the Defense of Marriage Act," he said. "The Department of Defense intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses — regardless of sexual orientation — as soon as possible. That is now the law and it is the right thing to do."

Gay Floridians left in limbo, lawmaker says

Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, one of Florida's first openly gay state representatives, said the ruling leaves Florida gay families in limbo. "What can be expected may be a series of court challenges,'' he said. "While the winds are in the sails of gay and lesbian families here, it's still going to be a patchwork . . . until we figure out exactly what happens in states like Florida." He said he expects that many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples will leave Florida for other states until the state Legislature modifies the state's discriminatory laws and Floridians repeal the constitutional amendment. "If you're a gay family and you're thinking about your future, you can choose to stay in a state like Florida and navigate the really rocky waters, or you can move to a state that says, 'We love you for who you are and we want you to create your small businesses here and pay taxes here.' '' He said he will reintroduce the Competitive Workforce Act (HB 653), which would ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Times/Herald staff writer Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this report, which also includes information from the New York Times, Washington Post and Associated Press.

Clinton's words, then and now

1996: Before signing the Defense of Marriage Act, President Bill Clinton released a statement that said, in part: "I have long opposed governmental recognition of same-gender marriages and this legislation is consistent with that position.''

Wednesday: In a statement on the Clinton Foundation website, Bill and Hillary Clinton said: "By overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, the Court recognized that discrimination towards any group holds us all back in our efforts to form a more perfect union. We applaud the hard work of the advocates who have fought so relentlessly for this day. . . . ''

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