Congressman Paul Tonko released the following statement in response to the United States Supreme Court's decision to overturn Windsor v. United States. The decision dictates that federal benefits available to heterosexual couples must be extended to same-sex couples in 12 states -- including New York -- and the District of Columbia, where same-sex marriages are currently legal.
"I applaud today's decision by the Supreme Court to federally recognize same-sex marriages across the nation and potentially provide equal recognition and benefits for millions of Americans," said Tonko."The so-called Defense of Marriage Act violated the Constitution's promise of equal protection, and its defeat today has granted long overdue dignity and recognition to married same-sex couples in New York and across the nation.
Marriage is about love, respect, and commitment, and in the Supreme Court's decision to overturn DOMA, our nation has taken a big step toward truly defending the institution of marriage."
The Defense of Marriage Act was enacted in 1996 and affected federal benefits for same-sex married couples, including:
- Health insurance and pension protections for federal employees' spouses
- Social security benefits for widows and widowers
- Support and benefits for military spouses
- Joint income tax filing and exemption from federal estate taxes
- Immigration protections for binational couples