SC Case: Samantha Cake

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  • The year is 2009, and Edith Windsor is mourning the loss of her wife, Clara Spyer. They had been wed in Canada in 2007, and then moved to New York. NYC had recognized their marriage under state law.
  • When Edith met with a lawyer to go over Clara's will, she discovered that her late wife had lovingly left her their estate in New York.
  • Article V
  • Little did Edith know, since their marriage hadn't been recognized under FEDERAL law, the government imposed $360,000 in taxes. Had the couple's union been recognized, she would have been provided a marital exemption. Infuriated, Edith decided to take it to court. 
  • On November 9, 2010, Edith filed suit in district court for a declaration that DOMA was unconstitutional. The government decided that DOMA must be defended, but the President and the Attorney General announced they would not defend it. After much struggle with bipartisan groups and the Circuit Court,  The SC ruled 5 to 4 that DOMA was unconstitutional, and stated that it was set in place to put same-sex couples at a disadvantage.
  • The SC was able to defend Edith Winsor under her Fifth Amendment right of equal protection.
  • Edith's case not only helped many others in her situation or a similar one, but helped to pave the way for the lgbtq+ community and the legalization of same-sex marriage. It's thanks to the bravery of people like Edith and Clara that our country is as accepting as it is.
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