Widow Forced to Pay Hundreds of Thousands in Taxes Because She Was Married to a Woman, Not a Man

This story about an elderly widow who was hit with a major tax burden because she was married to a woman and not a man is a sad read. The women were together for decades and made a series of great real estate buys, amassing quite a bit of wealth. Ms. Windsor (the surviving wife) cared for her partner for years through an illness, to which her wife eventually succumbed. Then, because of the Defense of Marriage Act, she was forced to pay enormous sums on her wife’s share of their assets — sums she would not have had to pay if she had been married to a man. Yes, it’s Rich People Things, but it’s still a wildly unfair application of the estate tax. The end of the piece, though, particularly stood out to me:

The Justice Department under President Obama has refused to defend the law, but the Republican majority in the House of Representatives is paying for lawyers to argue that it should be upheld.

I know there’s a lot of (deserved) frustration with the Obama administration when it comes to LGBT rights. But part of the problems is that a lot of folks just don’t know all the huge steps that the administration has taken, especially in the courts. The Justice Department refusing to defend a federal law? That is HUGE. Enormous. That happens almost never. Obama can’t overturn DOMA on his own, but he can pretty much single-handedly make sure that it has actual impact.

What’s telling – although obviously not surprising – is that House Republicans are stepping up to make sure that gay people are discriminated against. They’re throwing money at it. They’re hiring lawyers. The same party that supposedly hates taxes and wants to repeal the estate tax is spending its own money to make sure that an 82-year-old widowed lesbian is treated differently than an 82-year-old widowed heterosexual.

That’s pretty real. It says a lot about each party’s priorities. And it points out that while the Democrats are not always the best on LGBT issues (DOMA was, after all, Clinton-era legislation, although more than 15 years ago in a very different political landscape), they are taking major steps to support LGBT rights. Whereas Republicans are intentionally and aggressively trying to do as much damage to LGBT people and gay rights as they reasonably can.

Feministe / By Jill Filipovic | Sourced from

Posted at June 9, 2012, 5:03am

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