Friday, July 20, 2012
Estate of NY lesbian couple figures into major DOMA challenge
The Washington Post has a major story on the front Style page Friday, “Pioneers in marriage, and now in court: For N.Y. Woman, challenge to Defense of Marriage Act is about more than a tax bill”, by Manuel Roig-Franzia. The link is here.
This is the case of Thea Spyer and Edie Windsor, who married in Canada and whose marriage was eventually recognized by New York State. Thea died of heart disease in 2009.
Edie is facing a huge estate tax bill on the appreciation of real estate assets (unusual given the economy). In such situations, sometimes the survivor cannot continue living in the place but must sell to pay the taxes.
The legal argument, according to the article, is whether Congress had a power to pass DOMA to encourage children to be raised by parents of both genders. The argument seems to have little to do with the actual relationship between the women.
Thea and Edie enjoyed a long relationship but never raised any children.
Why not arrange the law so that the benefits of “marriage” accrue only if and when there are real dependents? I had posed that question in Chapter 5 of my 1997 DADT book.