WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee today passed the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Earlier this year, the Obama administration announced it would not defend DOMA in any legal challenge, including a lawsuit brought on behalf of Edith "Edie" Windsor, who was forced to pay $363,000 tax on the estate of her late spouse, Thea Spyer. Windsor would not have had to pay the tax if she had been married to a man.
“Today’s vote is an important step forward for the over 80,000 married same-sex couples across the country,” said Ian Thompson, ACLU legislative representative. “These couples have made the commitment at the heart of marriage, and exchanged vows under state law. For the federal government to exclude them from all federal protections for their marriage is unjust, unnecessary and unconstitutional. It’s time for Congress to join the president and the Department of Justice in rejecting this discriminatory law.”
“I shared my life with my beloved late spouse in sickness and in health for 44 years, like any other devoted, married couple,” Windsor explained. “In the midst of coping with Thea's death, it is hard to describe how painful it was for my own government to treat me as though we were mere strangers and not spouses. Losing a spouse is obviously a terrible thing for anyone to experience -- Congress should pass this bill to prevent others from having to go through what I had to deal with.”