Current and retired federal employees who have been on the offense against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) can’t taste victory yet, but its scent is growing stronger now that the Supreme Court has decided to review the law. Federal workers and retirees have been on the vanguard against DOMA. Yet, though the court did not choose one of their cases, the one picked this month certainly will have implications for the federal workforce. DOMA defines marriage for federal purposes as a union between a man and a woman. But instead of defending marriage, the law interferes with it by not recognizing same-sex unions. More marriage builds the institution. Rather than strengthening marriage by treating all families the same, Uncle Sam turns his back on same-sex unions that are legal in their states and the District by denying them benefits available to other married couples. So it is with anticipation that federal employees and retirees look forward to a decision that is expected in June after oral arguments in the spring. This case deals with Edith “Edie” Windsor, 83, who was hit with a $363,000 estate tax bill after her 44-year female partner, Thea Spyer, died in 2009. They were wed two years earlier in Canada, which has a more sane approach to marriage.
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