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The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a federal law passed in 1996 that both created a federal definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman and expressly gave states permission to refuse to recognize marriages entered into by same-sex couples in other jurisdictions. The part of DOMA that defines marriage at the federal level -- known as Section 3 -- was a radical departure from 220 years of federal practice, which was to rely on each state to define marriage and to recognize any marriage legally entered into under state law as a valid marriage for federal purposes.

We are challenging Section 3 of DOMA on behalf of our client Edie Windsor in Windsor v. United States, which is currently pending before the Supreme Court of the United States. In June, the Court will rule on whether DOMA violates equal protection by treating married gay couples as unmarried in over 1,100 federal programs.



 [somber piano music] - It was a love affair that just kept on and on and on. And it really was. We were really-- Something like three weeks before Thea died, she said, "Jesus, we're still in love, aren't we?" I was living on the West Side. I didn't know anybody in the particular neighborhood. And after a while, I called a very good friend of mine, and I said, "Please, if you know where the lesbians go, take me." And she took me to a restaurant. And anyhow, somebody came over to the table to say hello and introduced-- they brought with her Thea, whom she introduced. For the next two years, we would meet at various parties. We would always dance together. It was as if-- if we got close enough, the magnets came into play. Later, okay, I used to sing this song from "Funny Girl" about, [singing] To tell the truth, it hurt my pride. The groom was prettier than the bride. [laughs] I mean, she was beautiful, and mostly, it was joyful. God, it was joyful. And that didn't go away. We used to have a big sign on the refrigerator that said, "Don't postpone joy." What we felt is, M.S. happened to us. Okay? And it gradually changed the way we live, but it took a long time for that. And, uh, and then Thea got a really rough diagnosis, and she said, "How long do I have?" And he said, "Certainly within this year." And she got up the next morning, and she said, "Do you still want to get married?" And I said yes, and she said, "I do too." If you live together for 42 years and you love each other all those years and take care of each other all those years, how could marriage be different? It turns out it's different, and you don't know why. It has a magic word, which is magic throughout the world. Certainly it wouldn't have been as difficult if I had not had all of the money worries at the time. It's so hard to say why it matters-- why marriage is different, but marriage is different. It has to do with our dignity all together, our dignity as human beings, and our being able to be who we are openly. [somber piano music] 


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