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Groups for and against gay marriage say they're happy the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the cases

Most major groups for and against marriage equality chimed in Friday afternoon, after the U.S. Supreme Court decision to hear two gay-marriage cases:

Human Rights Campaign, HRC:

MILESTONE FOR LGBT EQUALITY: Prop. 8, DOMA Will Have their Day in Court

Supreme Court to hear constitutional challenges to discriminatory marriage laws

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, today heralded the news that the Supreme Court would hear the Hollingsworth v. Perry case challenging California’s Prop. 8 and the Windsor challenge to the discriminatory ban on federal recognition of married same-sex couples known as the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin – who also co-founded the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), which is the sole sponsor of the Perry lawsuit – released the following statement:

“Today is a milestone day for equal justice under the law and for millions of loving couples who want to make a lifelong commitment through marriage.  The passage of Proposition 8 caused heartbreak for so many Americans, but today’s announcement gives hope that we will see a landmark Supreme Court ruling for marriage this term.  As the Court has ruled 14 times in the past, marriage is a fundamental right and I believe they will side with liberty, freedom and equality, moving us toward a more perfect union as they have done in the past.

“Proposition 8 has been already been declared unconstitutional in Federal District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Now the Supreme Court has an opportunity to do the same and send a resounding message of hope to LGBT young people from coast to coast that they have the same dignity and same opportunities for the future as everyone else.  I believe our cherished constitutional principles will win the day and that the court will uphold the fundamental right that all Americans can marry the one they love.

“We are also thrilled that the pernicious and ridiculously named Defense of Marriage Act will have its day in court.  I am confident that the Justices will find this law patently unconstitutional and the federal government will get out of the business of picking which marriages it likes and which it doesn’t.

“The real heroes today are the brave plaintiff couples who willingly put their lives on trial in order to secure protections for their families and others like them.  Our country owes a debt of gratitude to Kris Perry and Sandy Stier along with Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami, Edie Windsor and the rest of the couples, individuals and organizations that stood up to discrimination.  The Perry case also showed that the old partisan divides are crumbling with the legal team of Ted Olson and David Boies coming together in arguing the case.

“With our wins at the ballot box last month and the fight for marriage equality reaching our nation’s highest court, we have reached a turning point in this noble struggle.  We will continue the fight until the promise of our Constitution is realized for every single person in every single corner of this vast country.”

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

ACLU:

Supreme Court to Hear Widow’s Challenge to Defense of Marriage Act

Because of DOMA, Edie Windsor Had to Pay Over $363,000 in Federal Estate Tax After Her Spouse Died

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to hear Edith “Edie” Windsor’s challenge to the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Windsor, 83, was forced to pay more than $363,000 in federal estate taxes after the death of her spouse Thea Spyer, because their marriage was not recognized under federal law. If Spyer had married a man instead of a woman, no estate tax would have been owed.

“When Thea and I met nearly 50 years ago, we never could have dreamed that the story of our life together would be before the Supreme Court as an example of why gay married couples should be treated equally, and not like second-class citizens,” said Windsor, who sued the government for a refund after Spyer’s death in 2009. “While Thea is no longer alive, I know how proud she would have been to see this day. The truth is, I never expected any less from my country.”

Windsor is represented by attorneys from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP; the American Civil Liberties Union; the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Stanford Law School Supreme Court Litigation Clinic.

Windsor, who achieved the highest technical rank as a software programmer at IBM, and Spyer, a clinical psychologist, met in the 1960s and lived together for more than four decades in New York City. They were engaged in 1967, despite there being no foreseeable prospect of them being able to marry at the time. In 1977, Spyer was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis, and Windsor helped her through her long battle with that disease, which eventually resulted in Spyer’s paralysis. The couple was finally legally married in 2007.

"The four decades that Edie Windsor spent with her late spouse are a testament to the words ‘in sickness and in health, till death do us part,’” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “After building their lives together and getting married, it is unfair for the federal government to treat them as though they were legal strangers.”

In October, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, held that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional as applied to Windsor. The court held that laws like DOMA that subject lesbians and gay men to unequal treatment are presumed to be unconstitutional and are legal only if the government can point to an “important interest” that justifies the discrimination. A federal district court had previously held in Windsor’s case that DOMA was unconstitutional even under a less rigorous constitutional standard.

“As the two lower courts have now concluded, it was unconstitutional for our client to have to pay a $363,000 tax bill upon her spouse’s death simply because she was married to a woman, instead of a man” said Roberta Kaplan of Paul, Weiss.

The Supreme Court also agreed to hear a constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, which relates to the right of same-sex couples to marry in the State of California.

“While New York and eight other states now give same-sex couples the freedom to marry, DOMA requires otherwise legally married same-sex couples like Edie and Thea to be treated by the federal government as if they had never married,” said New York Civil Liberties Union executive director, Donna Lieberman.  “It is time for the Supreme Court to strike down this unconstitutional statute once and for all.”

More about this case can be found at www.aclu.org/edie

National Organization for Marriage:

National Organization for Marriage Praises U.S. Supreme Court for Reviewing Proposition 8 Case

Group Predicts that Prop 8 Will Be Upheld

“We believe it is a strong signal that the Court will reverse the lower courts and uphold Proposition 8. That is the right outcome based on the law and based on the principle that voters hold the ultimate power over basic policy judgments and their decisions are entitled to respect.” – John Eastman, NOM chairman

Washington, D.C. – The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today praised the U.S. Supreme Court for agreeing to grant certiorari in the case determining the validity of Proposition 8:

“We believe that it is significant that the Supreme Court has taken the Prop 8 case,” said John Eastman, NOM’s chairman and former Dean (and current professor) at Chapman University School of Law. “We believe it is a strong signal that the Court will reverse the lower courts and uphold Proposition 8. That is the right outcome based on the law and based on the principle that voters hold the ultimate power over basic policy judgments and their decisions are entitled to respect.”

NOM was the largest contributor to qualifying Proposition 8 to the ballot and has been a major supporter of legal efforts to uphold it. The trial court in San Francisco—in a trial presided over by a homosexual judge involved in a long-term same-sex relationship—invalidated Prop 8, finding for the first time in American history a right to same-sex marriage under the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a decision written by Justice Stephen Reinhart, largely ignored the trial court’s reasoning and fashioned a ruling devoid of precedent, claiming that once a state has “approved” same-sex marriage, it cannot take it away. But California voters never approved gay marriage. Instead, a sharply divided state Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, imposed gay marriage. Voters overruled it with the passage of Proposition 8 several months later.

“Had the Supreme Court agreed with the lower courts’ decisions invalidating Proposition 8, it could simply have declined to grant certiorari in the case,” Eastman said. “It’s a strong signal that the justices are concerned with the rogue rulings that have come out of San Francisco at both the trial court and appellate levels. It’s worth noting that Judge Reinhart is the most overruled judge in America. I think this case will add to his record.”

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court also announced they will review the Windsor case that attempts to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was passed by a bipartisan majority in Congress in 1996 and signed into law by President Clinton, defining marriage for the purpose of federal law as the union of one man and one woman.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court will review lower-court decisions that invalidate the judgment of the U.S. Congress to define marriage as one man and one woman,” Eastman said. “It’s not the job of federal judges to substitute their views for the policy judgments of the people’s duly elected representatives. We believe the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn this exercise in judicial activism and stop federal judges from legislating from the  bench on the definition of marriage. We’re confident the Court will uphold DOMA.”

The Prop 8 case is Hollingsworth v. Perry, No. 12-144.

The DOMA case is Windsor v. United States, No. 12-307.

Marriage Equality USA:

MARRIAGE EQUALITY USA LOOKS TO UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT TO RULE IN FAVOR OF THE FREEDOM TO MARRY FOR LOVING COMMITTED SAME-SEX COUPLES IN LANDMARK LAWSUITS

Supreme Court to hear cases regarding Proposition 8 and DOMA

New York/San Francisco · 7 December 2012 ― Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) urges the United States Supreme Court to rule in favor of the freedom to marry and in favor of vital protections for loving, committed same-sex couples in landmark cases that the Court announced today they will hear concerning Proposition 8 and DOMA (Windsor 12-307).

With respect to the Proposition 8 case, MEUSA Legal Director John Lewis stated:  “It’s crystal clear that the United States Supreme Court should rule in favor of the freedom to marry.  Our Constitution guarantees every American the fundamental human right to marry the person they love – regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or any other external characteristic.   Proposition 8 targeted lesbian and gay people – and lesbian and gay people alone – to take away their freedom to marry and thus exclude them from the American dream.  Proposition 8 cannot stand.”

With respect to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), MEUSA Media Director Stuart Gaffney stated: “The case to end DOMA is compelling.  DOMA unfairly denies thousands of legally married same-sex couples across the country federal protections in many areas of their lives such as social security, veterans’ benefits, health care, taxes, and immigration.  Every lower federal court that has considered the issue has held that excluding married same-sex couples from these protections in unfair and unconstitutional.  It’s time for the United States Supreme Court to do the same.”

Proposition 8 and DOMA both cause innumerable harms to loving, committed same-sex couples:

Thom Watson and Jeff Tabaco of Daly City, California, who have been together for 10 years, already had a beautiful personal ceremony at the Cliff House overlooking the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by family and friends – but they are still waiting for the day they can legally wed.

“We are a loving couple who have committed our lives to each other for the past ten years. We are a family, and we want to be married,” said Watson, who shares a life and a home with his partner Jeff.  “It is difficult to learn that we will have to wait many more months to be able to marry, but we trust that the U.S. Supreme Court will do the right thing and stand up for every American – and affirm that Thom and I have the freedom to fulfill the American dream of marrying the one you love,” added Tabaco.

Amy Shore and her spouse Sherri, together for nearly 28 years, are a loving, committed couple who are already legally married in California but denied vital federal protections because of DOMA.  ”We are honest, hardworking, taxpaying people who care for our aging parents and face many of the same challenges any family does. We are just the same as every other American and should be afforded the same liberties and protections,” said Amy Shore, whose spouse Sherri works at NASA but is denied family health care benefits extended to heterosexual married couples.  These health care benefits are critical to Amy and Sherri because Amy is disabled and recently needed neck surgery and Sherri has Multiple Sclerosis. Amy and Sherri risk their home falling into foreclosure and face serious financial difficulties because of the denial of fair and equal treatment.

“The Supreme Court is taking up these marriage equality cases in what has already been a historic year for the freedom to marry. The Court will hear these cases knowing that we have the support of the President of the United States, numerous state and federal courts, and voters who supported the freedom to marry this November in every state where it was on the ballot,” concluded Brian Silva, MEUSA Executive Director.

Briefing on the cases will take place in the next few months, with oral argument anticipated to take place in April 2013.  The Supreme Court will likely issue decisions in the cases by the end of June 2013.

OutServe-SLDN:

OutServe-SLDN Statement on Supreme Court Decision to Hear DOMA, Prop 8 Cases

(WASHINGTON, DC) Army Veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson released the following statement in response today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to grant cert. in Windsor v. United States.

“The Supreme Court has rightly decided to address the constitutionality of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and we are confident that at the end of this process, this law – just like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – will be relegated to the dustbin of history where it belongs.”

In October 2011, OutServe-SLDN (then known as Servicemembers Legal Defense Network) filed landmark litigation on behalf of eight plaintiff couples challenging DOMA and other federal statutes that prevent the military from providing the same recognition, support, and benefits to all service members, veterans and their families. The case is currently stayed.

“The harm done to our brave service members and their families, and to our national security, by the Defense of Marriage Act is unconscionable. These are American patriots making the same sacrifices, providing the same service, and taking the same risks as their straight counterparts. They should not be treated as second class citizens,” said Robinson.

Robinson also congratulated the plaintiffs in Hollingsworth v. Perry, commonly known as the Prop 8 case, as well as the American Foundation for Equal Rights. The Court announced its decision to hear arguments in that case as well.

“The bravery of these plaintiffs and the tenacity of the American Foundation for Equal Rights and its founder Chad Griffin have been key catalysts in the movement we have seen across this nation on marriage equality. Today, we honor their work, applaud their leadership, and vow to keep up the fight until every American enjoys the freedom to marry under the law,” said Robinson.

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges in DOMA, Prop. 8 cases

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 — The U.S. Supreme Court today announced it would hear a challenge to the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), a 1996 law targeting same-sex couples for discriminatory treatment under federal law. Lower federal courts have previously found DOMA unconstitutional. The high court will also hear a challenge in the case of California’s Proposition 8. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has previously ruled that Prop. 8, which denies same-sex couples the freedom to marry, is unconstitutional.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

“The nation’s high court has agreed to consider one of the most defining civil rights issues of our time. Marriage equality touches our community’s hearts and affects our wallets, and the DOMA and Prop. 8 cases present the Supreme Court with a monumental opportunity to affirm our Constitution’s promises of liberty, equality and human dignity.

“We simply want to be treated fairly, and to be able to provide for and protect our families, just as everyone else does. Yet DOMA makes this impossible by denying legally married same-sex couples vital federal protections available to every other married couple in this country. This includes Social Security, health insurance, retirement savings and veterans’ benefits. Couples who have made a lifelong commitment to each other through marriage are being treated as strangers in the eyes of their own federal government. This is unconscionable, and as lower courts have deemed, unconstitutional.

“The recent election signaled just how far we’ve come on the path toward treating all families fairly, with landmark statewide victories affirming the right of loving, committed same-sex couples to share in the celebration and responsibilities of marriage. This long road to the high court has been filled with thousands of personal conversations about why marriage matters to us, and of how discrimination hurts our families.

“The transformative nature of talking about our love and our lives is clear, as we saw with the recent sweeping statewide marriage victories, and in the fact that the majority of Americans now supports the freedom to marry.

“But the journey is not finished, for as long as DOMA and Prop. 8 remain intact, then true equality remains out of reach. It’s time the Supreme Court strike down DOMA and Proposition 8, once and for all.”

Family Research Council:

Family Research Council Pleased Supreme Court Will Examine Marriage Cases

December 07, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today the U.S. Supreme Court accepted petitions to review two court decisions that challenge the constitutionality of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The federal case, Windsor v. United States, involves the Defense of Marriage Act. The second case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, deals with California's marriage amendment, Proposition 8.

Family Research Council (FRC) has had a long-standing interest in preserving the natural definition of marriage. FRC was instrumental in the legislative process that crafted and enacted the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996. More recently, FRC, in conjunction with the Thomas More Society of Chicago, Illinois, filed amicus briefs in two of the marriage cases for which Supreme Court review had been requested. Those filings supported the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the case arising out of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (Gill) and in the Proposition 8 case (then called Perry v. Schwarzenegger).

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins made the following comments regarding the decision:

"Virtually nothing is more important to the future of our country than marriage and the family. This is why we are pleased that the Supreme Court has decided to examine lower court decisions striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8. It was completely appropriate for Congress, using DOMA in 1996, to create uniformity in federal law and explicitly confirm that 'marriage' would be between one man and one woman for federal purposes - as it always had been. Since President Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law, 30 states have followed suit by incorporating the definition of marriage into their constitutions.

"Should the Supreme Court decide to overturn the marriage laws of 41 states, the ruling would become even more divisive than the Court's infamous Roe v. Wade decision. Marriage, unlike abortion laws in the 1970s, has been incorporated into the state constitutions of 30 states. Voters in these states will not accept an activist court redefining our most fundamental social institution.

"However, we remain confident that in the end, the U.S. Supreme Court will recognize that DOMA is supported by numerous legitimate legislative purposes - all of which are consistent with our principles of federalism. The argument that the authors of our Constitution created or even implied a 'right' to redefine 'marriage' lies outside our constitutional law.

"Additionally, we believe that the people's vote on Proposition 8 should be respected. Activist courts like the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit should not overturn their decision. We hope the Supreme Court will recognize the right of the people to uphold marriage as it has always been defined," concluded Perkins.

FRC's amicus brief in Gill: http://www.frc.org/legalbrief/commonwealth-of-massachusetts-v-us-department-of-health-and-human-services

FRC's Amicus brief in the Proposition 8 case: http://www.frc.org/legalbrief/amicus-breif-on-perry-v-schwarzenegger

U.S. Rep Nancy Pelosi:

Williams Institute:

Supreme Court Review of Marriage Cases Has Enormous Impact for Same-sex Couples
 
Williams Institute Research Shows Far Reaching Economic, Regulatory Effects on Same-Sex Families

The U.S. Supreme Court’s review of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8 later this term could have far ranging economic and regulatory implications for same-sex families, according to data from the Williams Institute.
 
“Given that multiple circuit courts have found DOMA’s Section 3 unconstitutional, the Court has an important opportunity to provide nationwide answers regarding the validity or invalidity of this federal statutory provision,” said Nan Hunter, Legal Scholarship Director, Williams Institute, and Associate Dean and Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center.
 
DOMA & Federal Recognition of Married Same-Sex Couples:
 
United States v. Windsor raises questions about federal recognition of same-sex couples legally married under state law. Of approximately 645,000 same-sex couples nationally, at least 20% live in a jurisdiction where they can marry. From 50,000 to 80,000 of same-sex couples in the United States are legally married, and more than 85,000 are in civil unions or registered domestic partnerships. If federal recognition of same-sex couples comes as a result of the court’s review, changes to federal policies will have a profound impact on these couples.
 
Changes to federal leave, tax and entitlement policies:
 
• Surviving spouses of same-sex couples would gain access to partners’ Social Security benefits, which could add over $5,700 to the monthly income of the surviving spouse.  See study.
• In situations similar to that of the plaintiff in the Windsor DOMA case that the Supreme Court has decided to hear, same-sex couples who are affected by the estate tax would no longer be subject to a greater tax burden upon the death of their spouse than similarly-situated different-sex married couples. See study.
• Same-sex couples working in the private sector would no longer have to pay 11% more than different-sex couples in taxes for employer-sponsored healthcare. See study.
• Same-sex spouses of federal employees would be eligible for employee benefits that are currently provided to employees with different-sex spouses. See study.
 
Proposition 8 and State Recognition of Same-Sex Couples
 
Research suggests the court’s decision to review Hollingsworth v. Perry, the federal challenge to California’s Proposition 8, could impact thousands of same-sex couples.
 
“There has been extensive research on the lives and experiences of LGBT people and their families. This research has been critical in legal analysis of disparate treatment of same-sex couples under the law, including legal analysis by the federal trial court that ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional in the case that the Supreme Court is now reviewing,” said David Codell, the Williams Institute’s Visiting Arnold D. Kassoy Senior Scholar of Law and Legal Director.
 
Research shows:
 
• There are nearly 100,000 same-sex couples living in California. See study.
• Over 24,000 same-sex California couples would be likely to marry within the next three years if permitted to do so. [Williams Institute Same-sex Couple Survey, 2010]
• If California recognized same-sex marriage, 35% of same-sex couples in the U.S. would live in states where they can marry; and 28% of the U.S. population would live in states where same-sex couples can marry.
• Extending marriage to same-sex couples has a positive economic impact. Wedding spending in Maine, Maryland and Washington could generate over $166 million in the first three years. In California alone, weddings could generate almost $290 million in new spending over three years.

Lambda Legal:

US Supreme Court to Hear Prop 8 and DOMA Cases

"This is an exciting moment in our journey toward equality."

(Washington, December 7, 2012) - The U.S. Supreme Court today announced it has granted review in two of the cases concerning same-sex couples: Windsor v. United States, the challenge to Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on behalf of Edie Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry  the historic decision by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declaring California's discriminatory Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

Jon Davidson, Legal Director at Lambda Legal, issued the following statement:

"This is an exciting moment in our journey toward equality. DOMA is a terrible law that forces our government to discriminate against loving same-sex couples, and it is time for it to go. It is clear that DOMA's days are numbered.  Every one of the cases that the Court was considering makes a clear and compelling case for striking down this outrageous and discriminatory law.  As we have throughout this litigation, we will contribute support and file a friend-of-the-court brief. We look forward to working with the ACLU and other sister organizations in making this case before the Court.  

"As for Hollingsworth v. Perry, while the Supreme Court's decision to review the Ninth Circuit's correct and carefully-worded ruling delays the restoration of equal access to marriage for same-sex couples in California, we believe the lower court rulings in California will stand. There is no legitimate justification for the inequality Prop 8 imposes on same-sex couples, and two federal courts have already ruled against it.  

"We will continue to support this case brought by the American Foundation for Equal Rights as we have in the past, by filing a friend of the court brief. They have forcefully made the case that Prop 8 is unconstitutional and that there was no valid reason to deprive California same-sex couples of the freedom to marry. Securing the freedom to marry for same-sex couples is inevitable, and we look forward with confidence to the day when we can celebrate the final demise of Prop 8.  And if the Supreme Court finds that the proponents of Prop 8 did not have right to appeal, same-sex couples in California will again have the right to marry."

In addition to Windsor v. United States, the Supreme Court had petitions for review in Lambda Legal's DOMA case, Golinski v. OPM, and two other DOMA challenges, Gill v. OPM, and Pedersen v. OPM, both brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). Courts in all of these matters ruled Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional.

In Hollingsworth v. Perry, Lambda Legal joined with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union for Northern California, and Equality California to file friend-of-the-court briefs throughout the litigation, and the group's brief was relied upon significantly in the historic Ninth Circuit decisions. The groups will continue to fulfill this role as the case continues through the Supreme Court.

Columbia Law School:

Columbia Law School Sexuality & Gender Law Clinic Responds to U.S. Supreme Court Decision to Review DOMA, Prop. 8 Same-Sex Marriage Cases

The Clinic filed amicus briefs on behalf of the plaintiffs in both cases at earlier stages in the litigation

New York, December 7, 2012—The Columbia Law School Sexuality & Gender Law Clinic responded to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today to hear United States v. Windsor, a constitutional challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, and Perry v. Brown, a challenge to Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.

“The Court can now write DOMA’s last chapter and put a stop to the federal government’s most explicitly antigay law,” said Suzanne B. Goldberg, Director of the Clinic and of the Law School’s Center for Gender & Sexuality Law and Doris and Herbert Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law.  The Clinic filed an amicus brief in Windsor when the case was before the Second Circuit federal appeals court.

“We are at a major tipping point in the arc of lesbian and gay civil rights,” Goldberg added.  “Congress passed DOMA amidst anger and fear about what might happen if same-sex couples married.  But gay and lesbian couples have been marrying in the U.S. for nearly a decade and there is simply no legitimate reason for the United States to disregard their legally valid marriages, as many federal courts have already recognized.”

Goldberg, whose Clinic also filed an amicus brief in the Perry case, added, "Perry presents an important opportunity for the Court to end marriage discrimination by the states, especially in California, where Proposition 8 took the extra step of stripping marriage rights away from same-sex couples."

In the Windsor case, the U.S. refused to recognize Edie Windsor’s marriage to Thea Speyer because of DOMA and, when Thea died, sent Edie a $300,000+ tax bill. If the couple’s marriage had been recognized, Windsor would not have faced any taxes on the estate because of the tax code’s marital exemption.  The case is a particularly compelling one as the two women had been a couple for 42 years, from the early 1960s through Speyer’s death in 2009, in a relationship so committed and moving that it became the subject of a widely acclaimed documentary, Edie and Thea.

"With these two cases the Supreme Court can establish and solidify the constitutional standing of lesbian and gay people," said Katherine Franke, Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Director of Columbia's Center for Gender & Sexuality Law.  "The time has come for the Court to repudiate the second class citizenship of lesbian and gay people."

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