New York is the origin of one the most prominent decisions by the United States Supreme Court. New York adopted a Defense of Marriage Act. It recognizes heterosexual monogamy to be the legal only connection that is allowed between married couples. Edith Windsor died in 2009 and her husband was left as sole executor. Before moving to America, Edith Windsor and her husband were married in Canada. However, some states allowed gay marriages during that time. According to DOMA, marriage was not allowed. The New York authorities imposed $363,000 taxes on Thea Spyer’s estate, which she had left to Windsor (Kaplan 2015). However, the tax was imposed because their union was not recognized by the state. A widow who had been accepted by the state to be a part of the union would not have been subjected to this tax.
Windsor brought a suit in District Court to declare DOMA illegal. New York’s state was determined to defend DOMA. They urged court officials to maintain the status quo regarding the definition of “status quo”. In February 2011, however, the government reversed their decision to defend DOMA. (Isaac, 2018). In April, the BLAG intervened and defended DOMA. They urged the district judge to dismiss the lawsuit. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the finding that the measure was illegal.
The case is called United States v. Windsor. The state of New York tried to charge $363,000 tax for Windsor’s properties after her husband died. Windsor brought a suit asking for the court’s declaration of section 3 illegal under DOMA in 2019. Windsor would not have to pay the tax had her marriage to Spyer been recognized (Isaac (2018) It urged courts to recognize that the state defined marriage and spouse as any relationship between a man or woman. The DOMA Act was initially supported by the state, but it changed its mind over time.
The Supreme Court heard an appeal regarding whether the DOMA (which defines heterosexual monogamy as marriage) denies married gay couples equal protection under the Fifth Amendment. The plaintiff also requested that the court determine whether the Bipartisan Legal Advice Committee was responsible in this matter. The court wanted to know if section 3 of DOMA denied same-sex couples equal legal treatment. This statute allowed the state to discriminate against gay couples, and to subject them to adverse treatment such as inheritance tax. (Jolicoeur (2018) Final question was whether the agreement between the lower courts and the executive deprived the supreme Court of the authority to review the matter.