- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Did Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act effectively kill the estate tax (“Supreme Court hands double win to gay-marriage backers,” Web, June 26)? The ruling essentially said that the federal government must treat all state-recognized marriages equally and extend the same benefits to all married couples.

This would include the avoidance of the massive “death tax” on the assets transferred to a surviving spouse as long as the marriage was recognized by a particular state. According to Wednesday’s ruling, the federal government cannot define marriage — that is left up to the states. So why wouldn’t a savvy, wealthy taxpayer who is already a surviving spouse facing a 40 percent tax on his estate enter into a marriage with one of his relatives in order to avoid the death tax? Of course, the state in which he lives would have to permit marriages between relatives.

Most states restrict marriages between close relatives, and there hasn’t been much of a reason to challenge these state marriage bans. However, now with a huge financial incentive out there, it’s safe to assume we will now see some rather wealthy widows and widowers attempting to marry their surviving relatives solely for the purpose of avoiding the death tax. After all, the states that allow same-sex marriage wouldn’t have the moral or legal grounds to prevent two people who are in a loving and committed relationship from entering into a marriage contract — would they?

KEVIN McCULLOUGH

Redding, Conn.