Recently, a federal appeals court in New York ruled that DOMA, a federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, unconstitutionally denies federal benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples.
The case involved a decedent who left all of her property to her wife in her estate. However, because the marriage was not recognized under federal law, her wife had to pay more than $363,000 in federal estate taxes. Her attorneys successfully argued that DOMA violates the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which guarantees equal protection under the law. The Court agreed, ruling that the law discriminates against same-sex couples.
There are now several appeals currently pending before the United States Supreme Court on this issue. Hopefully, the Court will agree with the New York federal appeals court, which ruled that gays and lesbians are not in a position to adequately protect themselves from the discriminatory wishes of the majoritarian public and, therefore, are entitled to heightened protection from the Courts based on the history of discrimination the group has suffered.