Defense of Marriage Act held unconstitutional
A federal district court in New York (southern district New York) has held that a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. The issue in the case was whether the estate of a decedent would claim the unlimited marital deduction for that portion of the estate passing to a same-sex surviving spouse.
The court found that DOMA denied the surviving spouse of the right to equal protection of the laws as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution. Prior to this case a marital deduction was only allowed if the surviving spouse was a partner in a heterosexual marriage.
This case does not impact any of the other requirements necessary to obtain the marital deduction, including the requirement that the surviving spouse be a US citizen.
This case has no precedential authority outside the southern district of New York.
There is no indication yet as to whether the United States will appeal this decision.
Edith Schlain Windsor, Plaintiff v. The United States of America, Defendant. US District Court, S.D. New York. 2012 U.S.T.C. P60,647 (6 June, 2012)