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LGBTQ: One Step Closer To Equality

In a decision issued last week, the Second Circuit ruled in favor of Edie Windsor, the widow of Thea Spyer.  Edie and Thea were a married, same-sex couple (they had married in Canada).  When Thea died, Edie got stuck with an outrageous tax bill that a straight couple would not have had to pay.  But because of the Defense of Marriage Act, Edie and Thea’s marriage wasn’t recognized.  Edie sued saying that was unconstitutional discrimination.  The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued its landmark decision and held that the Defense of Marriage Act – also called DOMA — is unconstitutional.  This is very big news!  The Second Circuit isn’t the first court to say that DOMA is unconstitutional but it is the first court to say that laws that target gay and lesbians — to help achieve equal rights under the law — will be given special attention (called “heightened scrutiny”).  In practice, this means that the government will have to come forward with an exceptionally good justification for why gays and lesbian should be treated unfairly.

Immigration Equality, a fab organization based in New York, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of binational, same-sex couples challenging the denial of immigration benefits.  Details about that lawsuit are here.  The lawsuit had been stayed until the decision in Edie’s case.  Now that Edie has won, the Immigration Equality case should go forward.