Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Jewish Organizations Join DOMA Appeal

The case of Edie Windsor finds allies in the Jewish community

Print Email
Edie Windsor in 2011(Washington Blade)

Yesterday, an 83-year-old widow named Edie Windsor stood before a panel of federal appeals court judges in lower Manhattan and asked them to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act–and give her back the $363,053 in estate taxes she had to pay because her 2007 marriage to Thea Spyer, who died in 2009, was not recognized by the United States government.

Windsor’s case is in line to wind up before the Supreme Court along with several other related DOMA challenges. Her appeal has attracted support from New York state and local officials, as well as from House Democrats, but she also has the backing of Jewish organizations like the Anti-Defamation League and Hadassah, and of the Conservative and Reform movements, which argue that the act confuses civil and religious marriage, and impinges on their religious authority, already exercised, to officiate and recognize same-sex marriages. “DOMA departs from this longstanding separation between religious and civil definitions of marriage by incorporating, for the first time, a single religious definition into federal law — a definition inconsistent with the decision of many religious groups, including many of the undersigned amici, to embrace an inclusive view of marriage,” states the organizations’ friend-of-the-court brief, filed earlier this month.

“One of the most popular arguments that’s been made about affording rights to gay couples has been a rigid reliance on religion, and the view expressed has been that the only religious view of these issues is a view of intolerance,” said Roberta Kaplan, Windsor’s lawyer.

Kaplan is a member of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, which also joined the friend-of-the-court brief. “I believe religion must be a voice, especially when religion has been a source of oppression,” CBST’s rabbi, Sharon Kleinbaum, said. “We have to reject this idea that religion is a force for bigotry and make it a force for liberation.”

Kleinbaum, who marched with Windsor at this summer’s Pride Parade in New York, honored both Kaplan and Windsor at CBST’s Kol Nidre services earlier this week. “I wasn’t so happy about the court schedule when we got it, but now I think it’s kind of a blessing to have a day to focus,” Kaplan told me before the Yom Kippur break. “This case is really about fundamental issues so it’s fitting that’s what I’ll be thinking about the day before.”

Related: Gay CEO on a Christian Loveseat [Tablet]
Gay Widow Wants Unfair Tax Ruling Affirmed [CN]
She Waited 40 Years to Marry [NYT]

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

Lawyer Paul Clement for House Republican leaders had to reach all the way back to 1885 for a definition of marriage: “the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony”

Well, divorce disposed of that “holy estate” idea some time ago.

Here’s his other “defense” of the “Defense” of Marriage Act:

He told the appeals court that the Defense of Marriage Act was consistent with the intention of Congress to continue “preserving programs the way they’ve always been — not opening these programs to others.” . . . He said “the desire to save the government money was a rational basis for the law as well.”

No stretch in history for this one: Congress passed DOMA in 1996, then, 8 years later, got a report from the Congressional Budget Office on: The Potential Budgetary Impact of Recognizing Same-Sex Marriages, June 21, 2004.

Page 1, paragraph 2: The US treasury would realize a net GAIN of around $1 Billion per year for the next 10 years if all gay couples who wanted to, married in all 50 states.

Lets see: $1 billion a year more for the government, for the last 16 years since DOMA was put in place.

$16 billion MORE is not beneficial to the US government, attorney Clement?

Any Judge hearing this case has to be out-of-his-her-mind listening to this GOP dribble. It’s been repeated over-and-over in courts throughout the land and fails each time.

How much longer? This injustice. This bigotry.

PhillipNagle says:

Having recently completed Yom Kippur services where in the second Torah reading it was stated thaqt male homosexuality was abomination, I find it difficult to understand how any Jewish organization can oppose DOMA.

    asher says:

    My opposition is to the government using a religous basis for law. If I allow that because I agree with it, how do i fight it when it’s contrary to my beliefs. My rabbi can tell me who I’m allowed to marry, the government should stay out of it.

An accurate headline would be “Liberal Jewish Organizations”. Many Jewish groups support the DOMA


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Jewish Organizations Join DOMA Appeal

The case of Edie Windsor finds allies in the Jewish community

More on Tablet:

Making Sex Education Smarter

By Marjorie Ingall — Teenagers need to learn about more than anatomy, as some Jewish educators already know