Edie Windsor is used to waiting. Ms. Windsor was engaged for 40 years before her 2007 Canadian wedding to Thea Spyer. The pair waited 30 years to apply to be domestic partners, under a New York City law introduced in the 1990s. Now Ms. Windsor, 83, is waiting for the Supreme Court to decide whether to hear her challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, with a decision expected Monday morning.
Ms. Windsor is requesting a refund of the $363,053 in estate taxes that she paid to the IRS after being left all of Ms. Spyer’s property when she died in 2009. Had the pair been classified as married, Ms. Windsor would have been able to inherit the property shielded from taxes. Instead she was classified as if they had no relation to each other.
Ms. Windsor’s case has the potential to help strike down the definition of marriage in the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, where it is defined as between a man and a woman. If she wins, the federal government will recognize the marriages of same sex couples in states where gay marriage is already legal, resolving a currently conflicting definition between the federal and state governments. The district court decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the case challenging California’s Proposition 8 that prohibited gay marriage, declared a broader right to gay marriage, but SCOTUS is viewed as more likely to take Windsor.
“I’ve been asked, how would I feel if we win?” said Windsor. “What would that mean? It would mean everything. The beginning of the end of the stigma.” Read More
That was the question The Observer put to a group of planning and infrastructure experts yesterday, after Senator Chuck Schumer announced that he expected the state to receive about $9 billion for storm mitigation measures, as part of its request to Congress for Sandy aid. After all, that is far from enough money to build some of those vaunted sea gates, though there is nothing to suggest more money might not be on the horizon in the future.
For now, though, here are their recommendations on what to do with $9 billion in new storm-securing infrastructure investments. Read More
Basically everybody but the Bloomberg administration and select landlords in the area want to see the Midtown East Rezoning delayed. While there is a general consensus that creating room for bigger, more modern office buildings in the heart of the city’s central business district makes sense, many planners and community groups fear the administration is rushing the plan to get it done on the mayor’s watch, rather than taking the necessary time to figure out exactly what to build.
Now, the three community boards directly effected by the rezoning are calling on Governor Cuomo to intervene, and their rationale is an interesting, if desperate, one. Read More
Although the Districting Commission’s proposal for new City Council lines was initially expected to easily pass with no changes, Council Speaker Christine Quinn has officially thrown a wrench into that process. In a letter to the Commission’s chair, Ms. Quinn said she is “requesting in the strongest possible terms that the Commission withdraw its submission to the Council to receive additional input from the public.”
As they face down the fiscal cliff, a growing number of Republicans are abandoning the pledge not to increase taxes that they made to anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist. Today, Hudson Valley Rep. Chris Gibson came up with what might be the most creative excuse yet for breaking the pledge. Mr. Gibson saw his district number change from 20 to 19 during this year’s redistricting process and he reasoned that the pledge no longer applies to him as it was only to the constituents under the previous district number.
“The Congressman signed the pledge as a candidate in 2010 for the 20th Congressional District,” his spokeswoman explained. “Regarding the pledge moving forward, Congressman Gibson doesn’t plan to re-sign it for the 19th Congressional District, which he now represents (the pledge is to your constituents of a numbered district).”
At several New York fast-food restaurants today, workers have walked off the job to protest what they feel are corporate efforts to stifle their unionization efforts. At locations like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Domino’s, Taco Bell across the city, workers are angling for higher wages in what they say is the first multi-restaurant fast-food strike in American history. And several of the leading candidates for mayor, all Democrats, want everyone to know they have the strikers’ back.
“I support New York’s fast-food workers’ demand for decent wages they can live on to support families, pay bills and put food on the table,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement. “Fast-food companies are some of the wealthiest in America, yet many of their employees earn far below the federal poverty level. These business practices are unacceptable. All working New Yorkers deserve a living wage and the opportunity to join the middle class. I am behind the city’s fast-food workers who are standing up for this right and fighting for fair pay and an economy that works for everyone.”