Though it's already become the biggest state to allow same-sex marriage, New York isn't done fighting for marriage equality. Yesterday, three days after the first gay weddings were performed in the state, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a brief in one of the most prominent federal cases challenging the Defense of Marriage Act.
The case of Edith Windsor, who was ordered to pay $363,053 in estate taxes after her wife died, was one of two suits that prompted President Obama to tell the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA. LGBTQ Nation reports that Schneiderman says in his brief that in addition to discriminating against same-sex couples, the law violates states' rights. He writes:
By refusing to recognize for federal purposes marriages that are valid under state law, DOMA intrudes on matters historically within the control of the States, and undermines and denigrates New York's law designed to ensure equality of same-sex and different-sex married couples. Thus DOMA threatens basic principles of federalism. Moreover, it classifies and determines access to rights, benefits, and protections based on sexual orientation, and also based on sex.
For those who weren't paying attention in high school social studies, the Constitution says that powers not delegated to the federal government should be reserved for the states. Schneiderman adds that DOMA prevents New York state from offering all of its cititzens full marriage rights:
Because New York has consistently expressed and implemented its commitment to equal treatment for same-sex couples, New York has a strong interest in ensuring that the "protections, responsibilities, rights, obligations, and benefits," accorded to them under federal law by virtue of marriage are equal to those accorded to different-sex married couples.
Without such equal treatment by the federal government, New York's statutory commitment to marriage equality for all married couples will be substantially unrealized.
On Monday Schneiderman was named in the first lawsuit challenging the state legalizing same-sex marriage. The suit claims that lawmakers violated the procedures of New York's Senate to ensure the measure would succeed. Schneiderman told the New York Times that the bill legitimately passed, and added that he's committed to defending marriage equality at both the state and federal level:
"This is very clearly and simply about equal justice under law for all Americans and all New Yorkers. I'm proud of the fact that we have passed marriage equality in this state, as a New Yorker. And as the attorney general, I intend to protect that statute as vigorously as I can."