After DOMA, Edie Windsor entitled to $638,000

The woman who filed the lawsuit that gutted the Defense of Marriage Act finally has her marriage recognized and her spouse's estate restored.

By Jason Notte Jun 28, 2013 4:33PM
Defense of Marriage Act plantiff Edith 'Edie' Windsor Edith speaks in New York City on Wednesday (© Timothy Clary/AFP/Getty Images)The United States never recognized Edith Windsor's marriage to the woman she loved, but winning the case that helped bring down the Defense of Marriage Act will bring her some minor consolation.

Sure, there are the federal benefits she's won for same-sex couples living in states that recognize their marriages. But Windsor will also receive the $638,000 in estate tax payments she had to make to the Internal Revenue Service and to New York State after her spouse -- Thea Spyer -- died in 2009.

As CNNMoney explains, surviving spouses are entitled to inherit the estate of their late husband or wife tax free. Because DOMA only recognized marriage between a man and a woman on a federal level, however, same-sex spouses did not receive the same benefit.

That being the case, Windsor paid the IRS roughly $363,000 and handed over another $275,000 to New York state, where estate tax rules follow the federal version. Nobody has had their hands on that cash since November 2010, when Windsor sued to get it back and brought her case all the way to the Supreme Court.

That inheritance benefit is one of many that are about to make life a whole lot easier for same-sex couples, provided their state plays along. Along with shared tax, retirement, estate and employee benefits, same-sex spouses will be entitled to visas if their partner lives abroad. On the other side of the equation, both the public and private sector benefit from same-sex marriages as well.

The gay wedding market, for example, has grown significantly over the years, creating new business opportunities for hotels, resorts, caterers and photographers. And in 2012, a year after New York legalized gay marriage, New York City announced same-sex marriages there had generated about $259 million, as well as an additional $16 million in city revenues.

As for the 83-year-old Windsor, her long-awaited estate won't even be weighed down by legal fees. Her attorney, Paul Weiss, took the case pro bono.

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Jun 28, 2013 4:47PM
Estates shouldn't be taxed in the first place, the money to make them was already taxed.
Jun 28, 2013 4:56PM
How the estate tax is considered constititutional is beyond me; gay, lesbian, straight, single, whatever. I was taxed when I EARNED it. I (dead or alive) should be able to give it away to anyone I want without it being taxed a 2nd time. It is pure and simple double taxation and just an excuse for politicians to take more money from the people. Somehow it is ok because they are "rich" people which blows my mind as well. People are so amazingly self-centered and are willing to raise taxes on everyone but themselves whether it is right or wrong. Nothing is judged on true merit anymore.
Jun 28, 2013 5:46PM

We so have our priorities mixed up. The real issue here is the estate tax. Taxing money that has already been taxed and sometimes multiple times.


We should be shocked at the huge government(s) that are suffocating us with rules and taxes that go to bloat the career politicians, their crony capitalist friends and welfare bumbs of all stripes.


Our money is being flushed down the toilet in alarmingly huge quantities.


Turn out the lights, the party's over!

Jun 28, 2013 5:58PM
They were together 44 yrs  most straight marriages don't last that long.Though my parents have been married  53 yrs.
Jun 28, 2013 6:24PM

Ok people think.


For all of you who think that estate tax only hurts the rich are idiots.


A farmer owns a huge amount of land worth millions and scraps by and wants to give it to his son to farm.  But, you axxholes, will tax the land, farm equipment, and any other assets to make damn sure that will never happen.


A business owner who scraps by in his little shop in a good location dies and his son can't afford to run the place because of estate taxes.  They tax all assets, land, everything.


So keep thinking the rich are paying it when they aren't because they can afford lawyers to make trusts to get out of it.



Jun 28, 2013 6:02PM

One more step into the 21 century.  Congrats to this fine lady.

Jun 28, 2013 6:04PM
anytime anyone can get money out of the government, by whatever legal means they can, it's a good thing.  The reason the government hates crime has nothing to do with right and wrong or safety, They don't want the competition.  Our government is the largest most corrupt criminal organization to ever grace the face of the planet.
Jun 28, 2013 6:43PM
The Government will grab any money it can so they can support their addiction to spending other peoples money
Jun 28, 2013 6:53PM

we are taxed on almost everything. sometimes two and three times. federal and state taxes are added to the sales price on alcohol, tobacco, gasoline etc. then sales taxes are charged at time of sale. effectively paying tax on taxes. any federal income tax 'refund' is charged as income the following tax year so you wind up paying taxes on a 'refund' of overpayment of federal tax the previous year. estate monies are from income that has already been taxed to the original earner so why tax it again if that person dies and leaves it to someone. the pound of flesh has already been gotten.

just sayin'

Jun 28, 2013 5:50PM
Why does she get interest on the money also??. We don't get interest on our income tax money that we overpay the Gov't and they hold... Why is estate tax any different?
Jun 28, 2013 7:10PM

Of course it's all about money! It's also about fairness and equality and being treated

under the U.S. Constitution as  full citizens with all of the rights as the "other"

married couples. My wife and I are one of the "other" couples that have been

married to each other for 41 years and we applaud the destruction of DOMA! We

thank Edith Windsor for her determination and courage in ending this blight on

our freedoms.  

Jun 28, 2013 7:19PM
This lovely lady deserves every single penny! Congrats Edie!
Jun 28, 2013 5:23PM
avatar was all about MONEY after all.
Jun 28, 2013 7:06PM
The real solution to the estate tax issue is that nobody's estate should ever be taxed when they die. Then you can leave whatever to whoever, without regard to marital status, sexual preference, race, color or creed. The Dumbocrats won't do this, but they will turn the world upside down to make sure one of their favorites, in this case the lesbian plaintiff, prevails in court.  The simple solution is abolish all estate taxes, both federal and state.
Jun 28, 2013 7:52PM

what about the interest on that money?  If she were to owe the IRS and NY that money, she'd surely be charged that by them, so she should be entitled to it as well. 

Jun 28, 2013 8:25PM
Thank you, Edie, for having the courage and perseverance to see this through to the end.  You have helped countless loving and committed couples to retain what is rightfully theirs, anyway.  As a straight ally of the gay community, I applaud your hard work!
Jun 28, 2013 9:13PM
Jun 28, 2013 7:39PM

Money....Americas god.  Is that all it takes to sell your soul?  Prayen for all those enslaved not only to themselves...but now the government. 

Jun 28, 2013 8:58PM

Follow the money. "gay" rights have always been about FORCING private companies and the taxpayer (through ‘gubmt’ employment) to pay their "partners" expenses. Mature, intelligent companies solved this conundrum 40 years ago. They offer rich (100%) benefits TO THEIR EMPLOYEES. IF the employee wishes to cover his spouse and children, he pays the freight. Non Problem solved.

Jun 28, 2013 11:56PM
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