Bloomberg and Quinn, Together Against DOMA

By Julie Bolcer

Originally published on Advocate.com June 20 2012 7:23 PM ET

The two most powerful elected officials in New York City will team up to fight the Defense of Marriage Act, as Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced their plan to file a joint amicus brief in support of Edith Windsor’s ongoing federal court challenge.

Bloomberg and Quinn revealed their intentions Wednesday evening at the start of the mayor’s LGBT Pride Month reception at Gracie Mansion in Manhattan. In a news release, the frequent political allies said they would support Windsor’s claim, upheld by a federal judge in New York two weeks ago, that DOMA violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Opposite-sex spouses do not pay estate taxes under the tax rules, as same-sex couples do.

“We believe that DOMA is unconstitutional because it deprives married gay New Yorkers of equal protection of the laws, and we are filing a brief to support the case against it,” said Mayor Bloomberg, who contributed lobbying and fund-raising efforts to the campaign to win marriage equality in his state last year.

“Edie Windsor’s case is a tragic reminder of the work that still needs to be done to extend equality to all people,” said Speaker Quinn, a 2013 mayoral front-runner who married her partner in a ceremony attended by Bloomberg last month. “As courts across the country continue to strike down DOMA’s unconstitutional assault on our civil liberties, I’m proud to join Mayor Bloomberg and the chorus of voices that have called to repeal DOMA once and for all.”

A Quinn spokeswoman said her office expected the brief would be filed next month.

Windsor, who is 83, sued the federal government over $363,000 in taxes she was forced to pay on the estate of her late wife and partner of more than 40 years, Thea Spayer, because they were not recognized as married. U.S. District Court hudge Barbara Jones ruled in the case, Windsor v. United States, that section 3 of DOMA, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, was unconstitutional. The ruling, which the House of Republicans is expected to appeal through it Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, joined a string of recent legal blows against DOMA, including the decision of the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston late last month that ruled the 1996 law unconstitutional.

Bloomberg and Quinn are not the only New York political duo to have joined forces against DOMA. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a sponsor of DOMA repeal legislation, and Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman, who filed a brief in the Windsor case last year, have sent campaign messages urging the end of DOMA through congressional and legal action.