Supreme Court Strikes Down DOMA, Leading to Dramatic Expansion of Federal Benefits and Programs to Married Same-Sex New Yorkers

June 26th, 2013

Today, the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal law that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman and denied same-sex married couples eligibility for over 1,000 federal laws, programs and benefits, such as Social Security survivors’ benefits, insurance benefits, immigration rights, family leave and tax filing.

This major victory permits same-sex couples who are legally married under their state’s laws access to the same federal benefits and responsibilities available to married opposite sex couples.

Justice Anthony Kennedy authored the majority opinion of this 5-4 decision, stating that “DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.” (The decision can be read here in its entirety http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-307_g2bh.pdf)

The plaintiff in this landmark case was Edith Windsor, as the Executor of the Estate of her spouse, Thea Spyer.  Edie and Thea, New York City residents, were together for over 40 years, and were legally wed in Ontario, Canada in 2007.  Thea died in 2009, leaving her entire estate to her surviving spouse.  If Edie and Thea’s marriage had been recognized under federal law, Edie would have claimed the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses, and no federal estate tax would have been due upon Thea’s death.  However, because DOMA barred Edie from claiming the exemption, Thea’s estate was subject to a federal estate tax amounting to $363,000.

This ruling has immediate and significant impacts relating to Elder Law and estate planning for same-sex couples in New York.  Since New York State has legalized same-sex marriage, federal benefits and programs will now be available to those couples living in New York.  This expansion of rights for married gay couples is especially dramatic in the field of tax planning and survivorship rights for federal programs such as Social Security.

Same-sex couples residing in New York should review their estate plans and long-term goals with an Elder Law attorney to discuss the benefits that will now be available to them.

Lamson & Cutner has always been a champion for LGBT rights and our firm is committed to assisting same-sex elderly and disabled individuals gain access to the programs and benefits that they are entitled to.  It is with great joy that we can help same-sex married couples access even more benefits today.

Entry Filed under: GLBT Couples Marriage Elder Law & Medicaid

Leave a Comment

  1. (required)
  2. (valid email required)
  3. (required)
  4. Send as

  5. Captcha
 

cforms contact form by delicious:days

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Search

Click Here to View
Lamson & Cutner's
Main Website

Subscribe

Calendar

August 2014
M T W T F S S
« Jan    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Most Recent Posts

Posts by Category

Posts by Month

Statements Pursuant to the Code of Professional Responsibility

Attorney Advertising

  • Prior results obtained by the firm do not guarantee a similar outcome in future cases.
  • The photographs used in this website are of professional models (and not actual clients of the firm), except that the photographs of the firm's attorneys are actual photos of such persons.