What is DOMA?

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a 1996 law passed by Congress, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, that forbids the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. The case confronted the Obama administration and House Republicans when the White House said, two years ago, it would no longer defend what considers a discriminatory bill (DOMA denies same sex married couples the same taxation and Social Security benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples). The challenge to DOMA was brought by Edith Windsor, who was married to Thea Spyer in Canada in 2007 and lived in New York — where their marriage was recognized. However, when Spyer died in 2009, the feds forced Windsor to pay $363,000 in taxes on her late wife's estate (something she would have been exempt from had she been married to a man).

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