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Sat Jun 26, 2021, 06:00 AM

On this day, June 26, 2013, United States v. Windsor was decided.

June 26 is sort of an unofficial Gay Day at the Supreme Court.

Lawrence v. Texas was decided on June 26, 2003.

United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry were decided on June 26, 2013.

Obergefell v. Hodges was decided on June 26, 2015.

Not only that, but on June 26, 1969, patrons of Greenwich Village's Stonewall Inn were losing their patience.

Back to Windsor.

United States v. Windsor

Supreme Court of the United States
Argued March 27, 2013
Decided June 26, 2013

Laws applied
U.S. Const. Art. III, U.S. Const. amend. V; Defense of Marriage Act 3

United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. 744 (2013), is a landmark United States Supreme Court civil rights case concerning same-sex marriage. The Court held that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denied federal recognition of same-sex marriages, was a violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, a same-sex couple residing in New York, had their marriage recognized by the state of New York in 2008; Spyer died in 2009, leaving her entire estate to Windsor. Windsor sought to claim the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses, but was barred from doing so by Section 3 of DOMA. Seeking a refund, Windsor sued the federal government in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. As the Department of Justice declined to defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) intervened to defend the law. District Judge Barbara S. Jones ruled that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional, and her ruling was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The Supreme Court granted certiorari in December 2012 and handed down its judgment on June 26, 2013. In the majority opinion, which was joined by four other justices, Justice Anthony Kennedy declared Section 3 of DOMA to be unconstitutional "as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment". He further wrote: "The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity." Four justices filed dissenting opinions, including Justice Antonin Scalia, who argued that the Court had "no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation".

On the same day, the Court also issued a separate 54 decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry that effectively allowed same-sex marriage in California to resume. Following the decision, the Obama administration began to extend other federal rights, privileges, and benefits to married same-sex couples. Two years later, in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, the Court struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage, ruling that marriage is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause.


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