DOMA MARRIAGE DEFINITION STRUCK DOWN BY ANOTHER LOWER COURT
In June, I wrote about how a married same-sex couple was able to persuade a U.S. District Court in New York to strike down the definition of marriage as being only the legal union between a man and a woman. This definition is in Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In the case of Windsor v. U.S., 109 AFTR 2d ¶ 2012-870 (DC N.Y. 6/6/2012), the court struck down the definition and allowed the estate tax marital deduction to apply to a same-sex married couple. You can read my initial analysis here.
A District Court in Connecticut has now also ruled against the federal definition. This case involved several same-sex married couples, and the issues involved included income tax savings by being able to file as a married couple, eligibility of a surviving spouse for Social Security Lump Sum Death benefits, eligibility under the Family Medical Leave Act, and Medicare Part B supplemental insurance availability.
Like Windsor, the DOMA provision was struck down based on failing the rational basis test under the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Unlike Windsor, the Connecticut Court undertook a lengthy analysis as to whether homosexuality is a “suspect class” under that Clause – however, it ultimately ruled that such a finding was unnecessary to strike down the marriage definition given its failure to pass the lower scrutiny rational basis test.
The Windsor case is under appeal to the Second Circuit, so more authoritative precedent (one way or the other) will likely come out of that case. Interestingly, the Connecticut case noted that there are at least 1,138 federal laws and regulations that are impacted by the federal definition of marriage.
Pedersen, et al, v. Office of Personnel Management, et al, (DC CT 07/31/12) Civil Action No. 3:10-cv-1750.