United States v. Windsor

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United States v. Windsor was a court case heard by the United States Supreme Court. The court's decision was historically important for marriage law in the U.S.[1][2][3] It was also important for LGBT rights.

The court decided that defining "marriage" as a union between one man and one woman (as husband and wife) was unconstitutional (against the Constitution). This specifically related to Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law passed in 1996. This defined "marriage" for federal (national) law in the United States. It defined it as being between one man and one woman. In United States v. Windsor, the court decided that this definition was against the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. In the U.S., the Constitution protects the rights of citizens, and no individual law can take those rights away.

The basis for the case was the right to benefits for same-sex married couples; the same right held by heterosexual married couples. Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, a same-sex couple living in New York, were married in Canada in 2007. Spyer died in 2009, leaving everything she owned to Windsor. Under the law, widows do not have to pay tax on anything they inherited from their dead spouse. Windsor tried to claim this exemption. She was barred from doing so by Section 3 of DOMA, which said that the word "spouse" only applies to a marriage between a man and woman. The Internal Revenue Service denied Windsor's claim, and demanded that she pay $363,053 in inheritance taxes.

After Windsor won the case, Time magazine named her the third most influential person of the year in 2013.

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