NEW YORK, July 25 (Reuters) - New York City filed a brief
Wednesday with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of an
83-year-old woman challenging the federal Defense of Marriage
Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a
Edith Schlain Windsor, a Manhattan resident, sued the
federal government in 2010, claiming DOMA violated the equal
protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
Windsor's spouse, Thea Clara Spyer, whom she married in
Canada, died in 2009, and Windsor said she had to pay more than
$350,000 in estate taxes because their marriage was not
recognized by the federal government.
Earlier this month, Windsor asked the Supreme Court to hear
her challenge, bypassing the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd
Circuit, which is currently scheduled to hear the case this
The city's amicus brief asserts that DOMA "forces the City
to be the unwilling agent of federally-required separate
treatment of lawfully-married employees and undermines the
City's strong non-discrimination laws."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine
Quinn, who recently married her longtime partner, are named as
amici. The brief was filed one day after city officials marked
the one-year anniversary of the legalization of same-sex
marriage in New York State.
"Government has no business treating one group different
than another and New York City will continue to stand against
DOMA for such discrimination," Bloomberg said in a statement
The Windsor case is one of three challenging DOMA's
constitutionality that are pending before the high court. Last
month, U.S. District Court Barbara Jones in Manhattan ruled in
Windsor's favor, finding that a DOMA provision discriminated
against married same-sex couples. Federal courts in California
and Massachusetts also have found the law unconstitutional.
In 2011, the Obama administration announced it no longer
believed DOMA to be constitutional and stopped defending it. The
Republican-controlled House of Representatives is currently
defending the law in court.
The case is Windsor v. USA et al, U.S. Supreme Court, No.
For Windsor: Roberta Kaplan of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton
For the government: Paul Clement of Bancroft.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax)
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