CSM: Federalism fight: 3 states say feds can't 'unmarry' gay couples

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Tom Dempsey

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Sep 9, 2012, 1:04:26 PM9/9/12
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Federalism fight: 3 states say feds can't 'unmarry' gay couples

Argument comes in support of lesbian widow hit with $350,000 estate tax bill



By Patrik JonssonStaff writer
updated 9/8/2012 10:33:30 PM ET

ATLANTA — Three states where members of the clergy and justices of the peace today marry gay couples argued on Friday that it’s a violation of states’ rights for the federal government to then “unmarry” those people under the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

In an amicus brief to a New York case involving a lesbian widow, VermontConnecticut, and New York argue that the federal government had no right, despite the federal designation of marriage as being between a man and a woman, to demand $350,000 in estate taxes when Edie Windsor’s partner died. That would not have happened under a marital tax deduction that lets other married couples pass their assets to their spouse without penalty.

The three states who filed amicus briefs argue that states regulate marriage and family relationships and that Congress doesn’t have constitutional authority to interfere with that license at any level. 

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