Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the federal statute, Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), was invalid.
For those not familiar with this case, the Plaintiff was Edie Windsor. An 84 year old who sued the federal government after the Internal Revenue Service denied her refund request for the $363,000 in federal estate taxes she paid after her spouse, Thea Spyer, died in 2009. Said denial was based upon the federal statute DOMA. DOMA, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996, prevented same-sex couples whose marriages were recognized by their home state from receiving the hundreds of benefits available to other married couples under federal law. During the Obama administration, the Justice Department initially defended DOMA in court despite the administration’s desire to repeal it. But the Justice Department changed course in early 2011, finding that the law was unconstitutional and declining to defend it any longer.
Writing the majority opinion, Justice Kennedy stated that “no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.” Furthermore, “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”
Now, same sex marriage advocates in New Jersey have filed a motion in the Superior Court of New Jersey asking a judge to force the state to recognize same-sex marriage following the Supreme Court’s ruling. In the New Jersey case, seven gay couples and several of their children sued the state, claiming that New Jersey’s civil union law does not comply with a 2006 state Supreme Court ruling that gay couples are entitled to the same legal protections as married heterosexual couples. As a result of the Windsor ruling, the plaintiffs can also argue that state law deprives couples of more than 1,000 federal rights.
Meanwhile, Governor Christie vowed to veto any same sex marriage bill that comes before him. He reiterated his opposition to same sex marriage shortly after the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Windsor.
The motion is scheduled to be heard on August 15. Stay tuned…..