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SCOTUS rules legally married same-sex couples should get federal benefits

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down federal provision denying benefits to legally married gay couples.

In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that legally married same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.

The woman who spearheaded one of the  cases is from New York and planned to await the decisions at the LGBT center in the West Village.

Edie Windsor is an 80 year old widow. She was with her partner for 44 years before they married but her spouse died 2 years later.  Her case challenges the defense of marriage act or DOMA and will have major ramifications for married same sex couples on everything from being able to make decisions when a spouse is sick, hospitalized and incapacitated to taxes that many feel are levied unfairly on married same sex couples.

It deals with whether banning those couples from getting federal benefits its unconstitutional. In Windsor’s case she ended up with a $363,000 estate tax bill after the death of her spouse when she would have owed nothing if she had been in a heterosexual relationship.

The other case is to determine if California’s proposition 8 banning same sex marriages is constitutional.  Right now only Connecticut and Massachusetts recognize same sex marriage.  Soon 12 additional states and the District of Columbia will sanction gay marriages.

The court has already handed down a controversial decision on affirmative action while striking down part of the voting rights act.

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