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When is a “Legal” Marriage Not a Marriage? When the Federal Government Says it Isn’t

After living together as a couple since 1963, Edith and Thea, two women, were finally able to get married in Canada in 2007. They thereafter enjoyed their lives together as a married couple in New York until Thea died, after being together in a committed relationship for 47 years.

In New York, “surviving spouses” are exempt from the payment of an estate tax. However, pursuant to the Defense of Marriage Act which defines marriage as a union between “one man and one woman”, the federal government would not recognize this legal marriage under New York State law and made Edith pay $350,000 in estate taxes-the same amount of tax as if Edith and Thea were “just friends.”

This federal law effectively imposes a hefty tax upon couples simply for being gay. How can this happen when the issue of “States rights” is allegedly supported by Democrats, Republicans, liberals and conservatives?

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