ACLU brought challenge to “Defense of Marriage Act” on behalf of Edie Windsor; victory has narrow but important impact for rights of gay and lesbian Floridians

CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office,, (786) 363-2737

MIAMI – The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that section three of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) is unconstitutional and that the federal government cannot discriminate against married lesbian and gay couples for the purposes of determining federal benefits and protections. The ruling came as a result of a challenge brought by the ACLU on behalf of Edith "Edie" Windsor, who sued the federal government for failing to recognize her marriage to her partner Thea Spyer after Spyer's death.

The following is a statement on the decision and its impact on the rights of Floridians from ACLU of Florida LGBT Rights Staff Attorney Daniel Tilley:

“The core of the last federal law mandating discrimination against gay and lesbians has been struck down. Today’s victory in the ACLU and Edie Windsor’s challenge to DOMA marks the beginning of the end of discrimination by the federal government against gays and lesbians. This is a victory for fairness, for families, and for the countless couples across the nation like Edie and her late partner Thea who have too long been denied the protections of marriage.

“For gay and lesbian Floridians who married in other states, this victory means that they now have access to many important federal rights, including the right to sponsor a spouse for immigration purposes. However, because many federal benefits of marriage are based on the state in which you live and because Florida’s discriminatory Constitutional ban on fairness in marriage remains in place, those protections remain shut off.

“The fight for equality under the law for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is not over yet, but today marks perhaps the most important legal victory to date in that fight. This historic win means the wind is at the backs of those fighting for freedom and fairness. The ACLU of Florida and our coalition partners will continue working to ensure that all Americans – regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity – are treated the same under the law.”

More information about today’s decision is available here.

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