Thea Spyer

POLITICAL REFLECTIONS COLUMN: MARRYING YOUR GAY FIRST COUSIN?

By Mark Gabrish Conlan

April 7, 2013 (San Diego)--On March 26 and 27, the U.S. Supreme Court heard two major cases over whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

On March 26 they heard arguments on whether Proposition 8, which California voters passed in November 2008 to short-circuit the ruling of the California Supreme Court that the state’s constitution did not allow it to deny marriage to same-sex couples, is unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The next day they heard the case of Edith Windsor, who legally married her long-term partner, Thea Spyer, in Canada in 2007, then got socked with a federal estate tax bill of $367,000 because the federal government didn’t recognize her marriage under the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DoMA) passed by Congress in 1996.

The two cases rest on somewhat different legal issues, and it’s quite possible the court could throw out Proposition 8 and uphold DoMA — or vice versa — but the underlying issues are the same.